UK Labour chief: Don't rush judgment over ex-spy

UK Labour chief: Don't rush judgment over ex-spy

UK Labour chief: Don't rush judgment over ex-spy

Britain's foreign minister increased pressure on Russian Federation over the poisoning case of one of Moscow's ex-spies by claiming it was "overwhelmingly likely" President Vladimir Putin directly ordered the attack.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted Friday by news agency RIA Novosti as saying that Russia is preparing sanctions against "a new group of American actors" and possible "additional steps".

"Our quarrel is with Putin's Kremlin, and with his decision - and we think it overwhelmingly likely that it was his decision - to direct the use of a nerve agent on the streets of the United Kingdom".

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Friday, Mr Stoltenberg said North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has "no reason to doubt the findings and assessments by the British government" which suggest Russian responsibility.

The poisoning of 66-year-old Sergei Skripal and his 33-year-old daughter, Yulia, in Salisbury with a nerve agent identified by British authorities as one made only by Russian Federation has thrown the two countries' relations into a profound crisis.

The Kremlin on Friday said it could respond to Britain's expulsion of Russian diplomats over the poisoning of a double agent "at any minute".

Russia is set to expel British diplomats in retaliation for Prime Minister Theresa May's decision to kick out 23 Russians as relations with London crashed to a post-Cold War low over an attack involving a military-grade nerve agent on English soil.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov immediately shot back, saying that bringing up Putin in the context of the case was "shocking and unforgivable in terms of diplomatic behavior".

Tensions with Moscow are growing before Russia's presidential election Sunday, after a nerve agent attack in Britain on a Russian ex-spy. Russian Federation confirmed Friday it will expel British diplomats and halt high-level meetings in turn.

On Thursday, Ryabkov claimed that Russian Federation had never developed anything like the alleged nerve agent, identified by the British as Novichok.

Britain, the US, Germany and France jointly called on Russian Federation on Thursday to explain the attack. British police said on Friday they had launched a murder investigation but did not think it was linked to the attack on the Skripals. A report Friday in the Telegraph says it was put in the suitcase of Skripal's daughter before she left Russian Federation for Britain to see her father. "It threatens the security of us all", the statement said. "There is to be no Russophobia as a result of what is happening", he said.

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