The residue of the poisonous chemical Novichock, which Russian intelligence agents used in early March in Salisbury, U.K., in an assassination attempt of a former Russian spy and his daughter, poisoned two residents from neighboring Amesbury, killing one of them. “The simple reality is that Russia has committed an attack on British soil which has seen the death of a British citizen,” Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said.
Britain’s defense chief has said that a Russian “attack” led to the death of a mother of three who was exposed to the same nerve agent that put former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the hospital, while the Kremlin said it would be “absurd” to blame Moscow.
The conflicting comments on 9 July came as more details emerged about the death of Dawn Sturgess, 44, in southern England a day earlier following what police say was an unexplained exposure to the nerve agent Novichok.
“The simple reality is that Russia has committed an attack on British soil which has seen the death of a British citizen,” Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said when asked in parliament about the threat facing people in Britain.
“That is something that I think the world will unite with us in actually condemning,” Williamson said.
He spoke hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said that the Kremlin believes “it would be quite absurd” to blame Russia for the poisoning of Sturgess.
And Russia’s Foreign Ministry posted a sneering comment to Twitter, accusing British authorities of always seeking to blame Moscow. “Could you perhaps come up with something new? A proper and careful investigation for instance?” the ministry said in its post directed at Williamson.
Peskov’s remarks were in line with repeated Kremlin denials of Russian involvement in the March poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal with Novichok in the southern English city of Salisbury.
Britain has blamed Putin’s government for the poisoning of the Skripals, which triggered a diplomatic row in which Britain and its allies expelled more than 150 Russian diplomats.
British police said they believe Sturgess and her partner, Charlie Rowley, must have handled a container of the substance and been exposed to a “high dose.”