'Theresa May has given Vladimir Putin 24 hours to explain how a deadly Russian nerve agent was used in an assassination attempt on British soil, as she said it is “highly likely” Moscow was responsible.
She vowed Britain will pursue “extensive measures” unless a credible account can be given as to how military-grade Novichok was deployed, leaving an ex-spy, his daughter and a British policeman in hospital.
Retaliatory action that might be announced as early as Wednesday could potentially include a larger military presence in Eastern Europe, fresh sanctions and action at the United Nations.
Government sources told The Independent British ministers have also discussed expelling the Russian Ambassador in response to what Ms May branded a “reckless and despicable act”. Ms May said if there is no “credible response” by the end of Tuesday, then the UK would conclude there has been an “unlawful use of force” by Moscow.
The White House immediately backed Britain on Monday, branding the attack as “reckless, indiscriminate and irresponsible”, but Moscow dismissed the Prime Minister’s statement as a “circus”.
Ms May revealed experts at Britain’s Porton Down defence laboratory have confirmed the Salisbury attack involved highly-specialised Novichok, first developed by the Soviet Union in the 1970s.
Updating the Commons, she explained that as a result it is “highly likely that Russia was responsible” for the act against ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, which also left Wiltshire Police Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey in a serious condition and parts of the medieval cathedral city off limits.'
Read more: Russian spy attack: Vladimir Putin has 24 hours to explain how deadly nerve agent was used on UK soil, says Theresa May
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