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Russian spy case: UK 'encouraged' by international support

Press Trust of India  |  London 

The today said that it was "encouraged" by the support offered by its international allies over the of a UK-based Russian spy, even as denied any role in the deadly attack.

UK said that he had spoken to a number of allies, including the US and members of the (NATO), and there had been a "willingness" to show "solidarity".

His comments came a day after British set a Tuesday midnight deadline for the to clarify how much it knew about the of and his daughter in Salisbury on March 4.

In a statement yesterday, she said that it is "highly likely" that was involved in the "brazen attempt to murder innocent civilians on our soil" with a military-grade of a type developed by the country.

"Either this was a direct action by the Russian state against our country, or the lost control of its potentially catastrophically damaging and allowed it to get into the hands of others," she said.

The poison used against Skripal and his daughter was revealed as part of a group of deadly nerve agents known as 'Novichok', which means "newcomer" and was used by the during the Cold War era in 1970s and 1980s.

Like most nerve agents, it has the effect of blocking messages from the nerves to the muscles in the body, which leads to a collapse of body functions and ultimately death by asphyxiation.

Russian said that was "not to blame" and demanded access to samples of the substance used against Skripal. He said was willing to cooperate with the investigation but the UK would be "better off" complying with its international obligations "before putting ultimatums".

"Should there be no credible response, we will conclude that this action amounts to an unlawful use of force by the Russian State against the United Kingdom," May had told Parliament.

International allies have been responding to the nerve agent attack, offering support to the UK against the Kremlin.

US Rex Tillerson, who spoke to Johnson on the phone about the case today, said the US supported the UK's assessment that Russia was likely responsible. He said it appeared the "really egregious act... clearly came from Russia" and there should be "serious consequences".

"We agree that those responsible both those who committed the crime and those who ordered it must face appropriately serious consequences. We stand in solidarity with our allies in the and will continue to coordinate closely our responses," he said.

NATO said: "The UK is a highly valued ally, and this incident is of great concern."

May also spoke to French on Monday and the two leaders "agreed that it would be important to continue to act in concert with allies" to address what it called "the wide pattern of aggressive Russian behaviour", a said.

An inevitable tightening of sanctions against Russia now seem inevitable as relations between and continue to deteriorate.

Russia's to the UK, Alexander Yakovenko, has until midnight on Tuesday to provide a "credible response".

In her Commons statement, made a specific reference to theuse of radiological substances in the "barbaric assault" on Alexander Litvenenko another Russian murdered 11 years ago in

Following Litvinenko's death, the UK had expelled Russian diplomats, suspended security cooperation, broke off bilateral plans on visas, froze the assets of the suspects and put them on international extradition lists.

May said that while those measures remain in place, "we must now stand ready to take much more extensive measures".

On Sunday, Britain's public health authorities had asked hundreds of people who were at a restaurant and pub linked with the of the Russian to clean up their possessions to remove any traces of the deadly nerve agent.

Trace amounts of the substance used to poison Skripal and his daughter were found at the and in Salisbury, where the duo had been before they were found collapsed on a bench.

Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, both remain critically ill but in a stable condition in hospital. Nick Bailey, who was the to come in contact with the circumstances, also remains seriously ill in hospital but has recovered slightly.

Skripal was convicted of treason in 2006 and jailed for 13 years for selling secrets to MI6, which had recruited him in the 1990s. The with Russian military intelligence GRU, was pardoned in a swap in 2010 and settled in Salisbury, Wiltshire.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, March 13 2018. 17:55 IST