Vladimir Putin 'personally ordered United Kingdom nerve agent attack on spy'


UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Friday it was "overwhelmingly likely" that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally gave the order to use a nerve agent to attack a former double spy in what's the most direct accusation yet against Russia's leader.

As the global scandal gathers pace, Skripal and his daughter remain in critical condition after exposure to the Soviet-designed chemical Novichok on March 4 in the southwestern English city of Salisbury.

Speaking to media during a visit to Uxbridge today, Johnson said the UK Government believes it is "overwhelmingly likely" that the Russian president himself ordered the assassination attempt on the Skripals, which left them both critical in hospital.

"We condemn this unprecedented attack by Russian Federation on the territory of the United Kingdom".

Britain expelled 23 of Putin's diplomats, cut all high level contact with the Kremlin, and plans a further raft of sanctions on Russian Federation.

Russian Federation said Friday that it will expel British diplomats and halt high-level meetings with the U.K.in an increasingly global standoff over the nerve agent attack on an ex-spy - but still isn't saying who will be kicked out or when.

Soon after Johnson's comments were reported, the Kremlin said accusations that President Putin was involved in the nerve agent attack were shocking, TASS news agency reported.

Moscow will expel British diplomats in response to London's move to kick out 23 Russian officials over the poisoning of ex-double agent Sergei Skripal, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday.

On Friday, Russia's Investigative Committee said it had launched its own criminal proceedings in connection with the "attempted murder of a Russian citizen, Yulia Skripal" in Salisbury and what it called the "murder" of Nikolai Glushkov in London.

Britain, the U.S., Germany and France jointly called on Russian Federation on Thursday to explain the attack.

The source of the nerve agent used - which Britain says is Soviet-made Novichok - is unclear.

"The quarrel of the United Kingdom government is not with Russian people - it is not with Russians living here in this country".

"Russia should shut up and go away", Williamson said.

"That does not mean we should resign ourselves to a "new Cold War" of escalating arms spending, proxy conflicts across the globe and a McCarthyite intolerance of dissent", he said.

Mirzayanov revealed details of Russia's chemical weapons in the 1990s because he said he was afraid of their impact. Moscow has fiercely denied its involvement and warned it would respond. The United States, France and Germany also condemned Russian Federation over the attack.

Former military intelligence agent Sergei Skripal had been pardoned and was "no longer a threat to Russia", Nebenzia argued, but at the same time, he could clearly serve as "the ideal victim who could justify any unthinkable lie, any kind of untruth tarnishing Russia".

Russian Federation has pledged to respond in kind and has been threatened to expel British diplomats from Moscow.