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Russia says UK may have 'orchestrated' attack on ex-spy's daughter

Ben Stansall, AFP | Police don protective coveralls with breathing equipment on the grounds of a cement plant near Salisbury on March 19, 2018, as investigations in connection with the apparent nerve agent attack continue.

A Russian foreign ministry official said on Wednesday that Britain may have "orchestrated an attack" on Russian citizen Yulia Skripal, the daughter of Russian former spy Sergei Skripal.

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“Logic suggests that there are only two possible things,” Vladimir Yermakov, head of the ministry’s non-proliferation and arms control department, told a meeting with foreign ambassadors based in Moscow.

“Either the British authorities are not able to provide protection from such a, let’s say, terrorist attack on their soil, or they, whether directly or indirectly, I am not accusing anyone, have orchestrated an attack on a Russian citizen”, Yermakov said.

The Kremlin also said on Wednesday that a decision by the British ambassador to skip a Russian briefing on the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain showed London was unwilling to listen to Moscow’s side of the story.

The nerve agent attack in England has plunged ties between London and Moscow into their worst crisis since the Cold War.  Britain has blamed Russia for the attack, something Moscow denies, and both have expelled diplomats in the stand-off.

A British embassy spokesman said on Wednesday that the UK ambassador, Laurie Bristow, would not attend the briefing with arms controls experts at the Russian Foreign Ministry, but that London was considering sending someone else.

Russia has so far refused to explain how Novichok, a nerve agent first developed by the Soviet military, was used to strike down the Skripals.

Russian news agencies reported that other ambassadors, including those from the United States and France, would also decline to attend the briefing organised by Russia later on Wednesday.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

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