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Theresa May points finger at Kremlin over poisoning of spy and his daughter

By David Hughes

It is "highly likely" that Russia was behind the nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, Theresa May has told MPs.

The Prime Minister said the substance used was a "military grade" nerve agent produced by Russia and there were only two possible explanations - either Moscow was behind the attack or it had lost control of its stockpile of the poison.

Mrs May said Russia's ambassador Alexander Yakovenko had been summoned to the Foreign Office to explain what had happened.

There was no handshake in the face-to-face meeting with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who voiced Britain's outrage over the incident and said that either explanation would be very disturbing.

Mr Johnson has given Russia until midnight to respond and told the ambassador Moscow must immediately provide full and complete disclosure of its Novichok nerve gas programme to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

In a dramatic statement after a meeting of the National Security Council, Mrs May told MPs: "It is now clear that Mr Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia."

She added: "Based on the positive identification of this chemical agent by world-leading experts at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down; our knowledge that Russia has previously produced this agent and would still be capable of doing so; Russia's record of conducting state-sponsored assassinations; and our assessment that Russia views some defectors as legitimate targets for assassinations; the Government has concluded that it is highly likely that Russia was responsible for the act against Sergei and Yulia Skripal."

That meant "either this was a direct act by the Russian state against our country" or Vladimir Putin's government had "lost control of this potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent".

The Kremlin has denied the involvement of the Russian government in the nerve agent attack on the Skripals.

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