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US News Britain hits back: Theresa May vows to EXPEL 23 Russian spies, CANCELS all contact with Moscow and calls for international SANCTIONS as she lays out reprisals for nerve gas attack

16:20  14 march  2018
16:20  14 march  2018 Source:   dailymail.co.uk

Russia row: How will UK respond to spy 'attack'?

  Russia row: How will UK respond to spy 'attack'? The Government has promised a "robust" response if Russia is behind the Salisbury nerve agent attack but what could be imposed on Vladimir Putin's regime?:: Expelling diplomats

Vladimir Putin beamed on stage at a political rally in annexed Crimea yesterday as his country issued dark threats of revenge against Britain over Theresa May 's pledge to expel 23 spies over the Salisbury nerve agent attack .

LONDON — British Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday ordered the immediate expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats believed to be involved in espionage, in the first reprisals against Moscow for a chemical attack on a former double agent.

a man wearing a suit and tie: The PM, pictured in the Commons today, is set to unveil diplomatic expulsions as tensions with Moscow reach levels not seen for decades © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The PM, pictured in the Commons today, is set to unveil diplomatic expulsions as tensions with Moscow reach levels not seen for decades Theresa May vowed to expel 23 Russian spies today as she laid out Britain's retaliation over the Salisbury nerve gas outrage.

In the biggest diplomatic swipe for decades, the Prime Minister gave the 'undeclared intelligence agents' a week to leave the country and suspended 'all high level contact' with the country.

Mrs May also paved the way for a crackdown on Russian oligarch money in London and urged the international community to join sanctions.

Russian Diplomats To Be Thrown Out Of The UK In Response To Salisbury Chemical Attack

  Russian Diplomats To Be Thrown Out Of The UK In Response To Salisbury Chemical Attack Russian diplomats are set to be thrown out of the UK in response to the attempted murder of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury.Theresa May announced on Wednesday afternoon that 23 diplomats have a week to leave the country, making it the single biggest expulsion of diplomats for over 30 years.

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain is to kick out 23 Russian diplomats, the biggest such expulsion since the Cold War, over a chemical attack on a former Russian double agent in England that Prime Minister Theresa May blamed on Moscow , an assessment backed by the United States.

LONDON — Britain ordered the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats believed involved in espionage-related activities, British Prime Minister announced Wednesday, in the first wave of measures against Moscow for a nerve - gas attack against a former double agent. Theresa May , speaking to

As relations with Moscow reached new lows in the wake of the attack on former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, the premier also suggested that covert reprisals would be undertaken - in an apparent hint at cyber attacks.

a group of people sitting at a table in front of a crowd: Theresa May's statement to MPs today came after a deadline passed for Russia to explain how Novichok nerve agent came to be used against a former spy in Salisbury © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Theresa May's statement to MPs today came after a deadline passed for Russia to explain how Novichok nerve agent came to be used against a former spy in Salisbury Mrs May - who directly condemned Vladimir Putin in her statement to the Commons - said she was determined that the package would 'fundamentally degrade Russian intelligence' capability in the UK.

‘They have treated the use of this poison with sarcasm and disdain…There is no other conclusion other than that the Russian state was responsible for the attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal and his daughter,’ Mrs May said. 

Moscow says will retaliate soon to Britain's expulsion of diplomats

  Moscow says will retaliate soon to Britain's expulsion of diplomats Moscow on Wednesday called Britain's decision to expel 23 Russian diplomats over the poisoning of an ex-spy a sign that London was choosing confrontation with Russia, adding that retaliation would follow shortly. "The British government made a choice for confrontation with Russia," the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

May expels 23 Russian diplomats in response to spy poisoning. Alexander Yakovenko, the Russian ambassador to the UK, has confirmed that British diplomats will be expelled from Moscow .

Moscow is to expel 23 UK diplomats and shut down the British Council in Russia amid increasing tensions over a nerve agent attack against a former double agent and his daughter on British soil. Speaking at the Conservative party spring forum on Saturday, Theresa May said: “We anticipated a

Britain has made a formal protest at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, slamming Vladimir Putin's regime as 'reckless'.

The government has also called for an urgent meeting of the UN security council.

But Russia immediately threatened to hit back in kind. After being notified of the reprisals at the Foreign Office, ambassador to the UK Alexander Yakovenko branded them a 'provocation' and 'unacceptable'.

a person holding a gun: Mrs May, pictured leaving No10 this morning, held a meeting with her National Security Council to discuss the Salisbury attack © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Mrs May, pictured leaving No10 this morning, held a meeting with her National Security Council to discuss the Salisbury attack

Earlier, Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: 'Moscow has nothing to do with the accident in Britain.

'Moscow does not accept unfounded accusations that are not based on evidence and a language of ultimatums.'

In a dramatic escalation of the spat with Russia, Mrs May said: ’Under the Vienna Convention the United kingdom will now expel 23 Russian diplomats who have been identified as undeclared intelligence officers - they have just one week to leave.

Corbyn accused of 'appeasement' towards Russia

  Corbyn accused of 'appeasement' towards Russia Jeremy Corbyn was accused of "appeasement" towards Russia as MPs - including his own backbenchers - voiced anger at the Labour leader's apparent reluctance to directly blame Moscow for the Salisbury nerve agent attack.  Mr Corbyn was heckled in the House of Commons on Wednesday as he responded to the Prime Minister's statement setting out a range of retaliatory measures the UK will take against Russia.

LONDON — Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain expelled 23 Russian diplomats on Wednesday over the poisoning of a former Russian spy on British soil, raising tensions between the two countries to a level not seen since the heights of the Cold War.

6 отметок «Нравится», 1 комментариев — Media Jungle (@mediajungleng) в Instagram: « Britain hits back : Theresa May vows to expel 23 Russian spies , cancel all contact with Moscow and …»

a person in a suit sitting at a table: Russian President Vladimir Putin (pictured in Dagestan today) has mocked Britain over the nerve agent attack in Salisbury © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Russian President Vladimir Putin (pictured in Dagestan today) has mocked Britain over the nerve agent attack in Salisbury ‘This will be the single biggest expulsion in over 30 years and it reflects the fact this is not the first time that the Russian state has acted against our country.

‘Through these expulsions we will fundamentally degrade Russian intelligence capability in the UK for years to come. And if they seek to rebuild it we will prevent them from doing so.’

By contrast, just four diplomats were expelled following the murder of Alexander Litvinenko in 2006. 

a group of people standing next to a wire fence: Investigators in protective suits in the Maltings shopping centre in Salisbury, where former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found critically ill after exposure to a nerve agent, as the investigation into the attack continues © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Investigators in protective suits in the Maltings shopping centre in Salisbury, where former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found critically ill after exposure to a nerve agent, as the investigation into the attack continues All high-level contacts with Russia will be frozen, with ministers and the Royal Family boycotting the football world cup in the country this summer.

Opinions | Boris Johnson: Britain needs its allies to stand with us against Russia

  Opinions | Boris Johnson: Britain needs its allies to stand with us against Russia The bleak truth is that what happened in Salisbury could have happened anywhere. I interpret this incident as part of a pattern of reckless behavior by President Vladimir Putin. The common thread that joins the poisonings in Salisbury with the annexation of Crimea, the cyberattacks in Ukraine, the hacking of Germany’s Parliament and Russian interference in foreign elections is the Kremlin’s reckless defiance of essential international rules.Most tellingly of all, Russia has made immense efforts to conceal the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime in Syria.

'They have just one week to leave': May expels 23 Russian diplomats – video. Britain is braced for retaliation from Moscow after Theresa May blamed the Russian state for the Salisbury poisoning, and announced the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats and a crackdown on “corrupt elites”.

The Two-Way 21 People Are Treated After Nerve -Agent Attack On Ex- Spy , U.K. Police Say The Two-Way U.K. Expels 23 Russian Diplomats Over Use Of Military-Grade Nerve Agent had publicly called out Russia as the source of a nerve agent attack on an ex- spy in Britain .

However, there was no indication that there will be a move to withdraw the England team.

THE RETALIATON MEASURES SET OUT BY THERESA MAY 

Britain will expel 23 'undeclared intelligence officers' from the country within a week.

a man wearing a suit and tie: Boris Johnson was in Downing Street today for the meeting of the National Security Council © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Boris Johnson was in Downing Street today for the meeting of the National Security Council Anti-espionage laws will be brought forward to help degrade Russia's capabilities in the UK. 

All high-level contacts with Russia will be suspended in protest. 

Ministers and the Royal Family will boycott the football World Cup in Russia this summer. 

Checks on Russian nationals coming to the UK will be stepped up.

a man wearing a suit and tie: Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson (right) also attended the NSC session in 10 Downing Street this morning © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson (right) also attended the NSC session in 10 Downing Street this morning Sanctions legislation will be toughened up to enable the UK to respond more forcefully.

Mrs May suggested there will be covert action that would not be announced - an apparent hint at cyber attacks.

In an apparent reference to the activities of Russian oligarchs, Mrs May said there would be tighter checks on those coming to the country. She said there could be 'no place' for corruption in the UK.

BREAKING NEWS: White House unveils new sanctions against Putin focused on his spies as Trump joins France, Germany and the UK in condemning nerve gas attack and says it 'looks like' Putin was behind it

  BREAKING NEWS: White House unveils new sanctions against Putin focused on his spies as Trump joins France, Germany and the UK in condemning nerve gas attack and says it 'looks like' Putin was behind it 'The recent use of a military grade nerve agent in an attempt to murder two UK citizens further demonstrates the reckless and irresponsible conduct of its government,' an official said Thursday.The sanctions push came as President Donald Trump said it 'looks like' Russia was behind the poisoning of Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain.

Only hours after Britain expelled 23 Russian diplomats over the nerve -agent poisoning of a Russian ex- spy , the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations sharply blamed Moscow on Wednesday for the attack and warned "we will act" if chemical weapon use continues.

British Prime Minister Theresa May today expelled 23 Russian diplomats - in the "single biggest expulsion" in more than 30 years - and suspended high-level bilateral contacts , saying Moscow was "culpable" of a nerve agent attack on a former spy and his daughter.

a woman looking at the camera: Home Secretary Amber Rudd © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Home Secretary Amber Rudd 'We will also table a government amendment to the Sanctions Bill to strengthen our powers to impose sanctions in response to the violation of human rights,' she said.

'In doing so we will play our part in the international effort to punish those responsible for the sorts of abuses suffered by Sergei Magnitsky.' 

Ministers are now braced for a tit-for-tat move by Moscow.

a screenshot of a cell phone: European Council president Donald Tusk said today that the 'brutal' attack could be put on the agenda for a summit next week © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited European Council president Donald Tusk said today that the 'brutal' attack could be put on the agenda for a summit next week The Russian embassy to the UK said in a statement: 'We consider this hostile action as totally unacceptable, unjustified and shortsighted.

'All the responsibility for the deterioration of the Russia-UK relationship lies with the current political leadership of Britain.' 

Mrs May met her National Security Council this morning, after winning support from allies including the US, Germany and France for reprisals.

a person posing for the camera: Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street in central London on March 13 © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street in central London on March 13 US President Donald Trump vowed to back the UK 'all the way' in the stand off when he spoke to Mrs May by telephone last night.

The PM had already secured the backing of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron.

European Council president Donald Tusk said today that the 'brutal' attack could be put on the agenda for a summit next week. 

Salisbury attack: EU leaders agree Russia 'highly likely' to blame

  Salisbury attack: EU leaders agree Russia 'highly likely' to blame EU leaders have agreed it is "highly likely" that Russia is responsible for the Salisbury nerve agent attack. Following a working dinner at a Brussels summit on Thursday night, European Council President Donald Tusk revealed the bloc's member states have backed the UK Government's assessment there is "no other plausible explanation" than Moscow's culpability.He posted on Twitter: "#EUCO agrees with UK government that highly likely Russia is responsible for #SalisburyAttack and that there is no other plausible explanation.

Theresa May has said Britain will expel 23 Russian diplomats in response to the nerve toxin attack on former spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury. The Prime Minister told MPs the individuals had been identified as undeclared spies .

Theresa May : UK will expel 23 Russian diplomats. Replay. This will be the single biggest expulsion of Russian diplomats in more than 30 years, Prime Minister Theresa May said Wednesday, as she set out a raft of measures intended to target Russian Russian spy attack : Why Britain and why now?

Vladimir Putin wearing a suit and tie: Russia's President Vladimir Putin in Dagestan on March 13 © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Russia's President Vladimir Putin in Dagestan on March 13 'I express my full solidarity with PM @theresa_may in the face of the brutal attack inspired, most likely, by Moscow. I'm ready to put the issue on next week's #EUCO agenda,' he said. 

Russia had demanded to see samples of the Novichok substance found in Sergei Skripal's body before it considered responding to Mrs May's midnight deadline. 

Moscow's ambassador to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Alexander Shulgin, accused the UK of 'fomenting hysteria'.

' An officer wearing a protective suit, a gas mask with a hood and rubber gloves inspects evidence in Salisbury tonight © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited An officer wearing a protective suit, a gas mask with a hood and rubber gloves inspects evidence in Salisbury tonight Sooner or later they will have to be held accountable for their lies,' he said. 

In an extraordinary series of tweets last night, the Russian embassy to London posted threatening messages accompanied by pictures of what appears to be vials of poison.

But UK ambassador Julian Braithwaite told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva this morning that Moscow's behaviour was an 'affront'.

  Britain hits back: Theresa May vows to EXPEL 23 Russian spies, CANCELS all contact with Moscow and calls for international SANCTIONS as she lays out reprisals for nerve gas attack © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited 'The council and the United Nations General Assembly have decried Russia's violations of international law with alarming regularity,' he said. 

'Its reckless behaviour is an affront to all this body stands for.'

A Foreign Office spokesman said: 'The UK has called for an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council to update Council members on the investigation into the nerve agent attack in Salisbury.' 

a screenshot of a cell phone © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited

As relations between the two countries hit the lowest point since the Cold War overnight, Nikolai Glushkov, the right-hand man of Mr Putin's 'personal enemy number one', was found dead at his London home.

Government to consider expelling Russian diplomats on the back of UK spy attack

  Government to consider expelling Russian diplomats on the back of UK spy attack Government to consider expelling Russian diplomats on the back of UK spy attackVaradkar has said that he has spoken to Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney on the matter and that a decision will be made next week, RTÉ is reporting.

a close up of a flower garden in front of a fence: Investigators in protective suits in the Maltings shopping centre in Salisbury, where former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found critically ill after exposure to a nerve agent © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Investigators in protective suits in the Maltings shopping centre in Salisbury, where former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found critically ill after exposure to a nerve agent He is said to have borne marks of strangulation.  

It was also claimed that Mr Skripal and his daughter might have been poisoned when the agent was smeared on the door handles of their car.

a man wearing a suit and tie: US President Donald Trump tonight told Mrs May in a call he was with Britain 'all the way' and demanded Russia provide 'unambiguous' answers © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited US President Donald Trump tonight told Mrs May in a call he was with Britain 'all the way' and demanded Russia provide 'unambiguous' answers Following the call with President Trump, Downing Street said: 'The Prime Minister spoke to President Trump earlier this afternoon (Tuesday) to update him on the ongoing investigation into the Salisbury incident. 

'The Prime Minister set out the conclusion reached by the UK Government that it was highly likely that Russia was responsible for the attack against Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

'President Trump said the US was with the UK all the way, agreeing that the Russian Government must provide unambiguous answers as to how this nerve agent came to be used.'  

Emmanuel Macron in a suit and tie © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited

In its string of messages last night, the Russian embassy feed stated: 'Moscow will not respond to London's ultimatum until it receives samples of the chemical substance to which the UK investigators are referring.

'Britain must comply with the Chemical Weapons Convention which stipulates joint investigation into the incident, for which Moscow is ready.

a close up of Angela Merkel: The Prime Minister spoke to German Chancellor Angela Merkel tonight to brief her on the attack in Salisbury © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The Prime Minister spoke to German Chancellor Angela Merkel tonight to brief her on the attack in Salisbury 'Without that, there can be no sense in any statements from London. The incident appears to be yet another crooked attempt by the UK authorities to discredit Russia.

Timeline of Sergei Skripal's poisoning 

Sunday, March 4th - 4.15pm: Wiltshire Police find a man and woman unconscious on a bench at the The Maltings shopping centre in Salisbury and cordon off the area

Monday, 5th - 11am: Salisbury District Hospital, where the pair were taken, declares a major incident and its A&E department is closed.

8pm: Police officers are first seen outside Mr Skripal's home in Salisbury

10pm: Police close a Zizzi restaurant near the shopping centre.

Tuesday, 6th -  11.30am: Police also cordon off the Bishop's Mill pub in Salisbury, where Mr Skripal and his daughter may have gone after leaving Zizzi.

9pm: Firefighters in Hazmat suits are sent to an ambulance base in Amesbury, eight miles away from the scene where they were found.

Wednesday, 7th - 3:30pm: Cordon around Mr Skripal's house is extended to the top of the cul-de-sac.

Thursday, 8th - 2pm: Police were revealed to have cordoned off the graves of Mr Skripal's wife and son in Salisbury.

2pm: Police also extend the cordon around Mr Skripal's home from 50 yards to 150 yards and around the corner.

7.30pm: Police in protective gear go to Ashley Wood Recovery in Salisbury to examine a maroon BMW-3 series, the same car driven by the former spy.

Friday, 9th -10am: Military convoy of 180 troops arrives in Salisbury, including chemical weapons experts, to join the investigation.

3pm: Detectives in Hazmat suits descend on Salisbury cemetery and removed items from Mrs Skripal and her son's grave. 

Sunday, 11th - The army remove police cars and ambulances thought to have been contaminated.

Monday, 12th - Army close off village of Winterslow and Sainsbury's car park in Salisbury to remove vehicles.  

'Any threat to take 'punitive' measures against Russia will meet with a response. The British side should be aware of that.' 

Following the call with Mrs Merkel, Downing Street said: 'They discussed the pattern of aggressive Russian behaviour and agreed it would be important to act in unison with allies to counter it.

' a person wearing a costume: Sergei Skripal (pictured) and his daughter Yulia have been in a critical condition since they were found unconscious on a bench outside a shopping centre in Salisbury on March 4 © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Sergei Skripal (pictured) and his daughter Yulia have been in a critical condition since they were found unconscious on a bench outside a shopping centre in Salisbury on March 4 Chancellor Merkel condemned the attack and said she stood in full solidarity with the UK.

'They agreed that the international community should coordinate closely as the investigation developed and in the wake of Russia's response.' 

The former director of Britain's communications spying agency GCHQ, Robert Hannigan, said her response should include 'the expulsion of diplomats on a scale we probably haven't seen since the Cold War'.

Speaking to BBC radio, Hannigan also backed 'hitting the economic targets', including Russians doing business in London, but warned against a large-scale cyberattack. 

Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia (pictured) have been in a critical condition since they were found unconscious on a bench outside a shopping centre in Salisbury on March 4 © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia (pictured) have been in a critical condition since they were found unconscious on a bench outside a shopping centre in Salisbury on March 4 Senior MEP Guy Verhofstadt offered EU support and said: 'We stand shoulder to shoulder with the British people.

'It must be made clear that an attack against one EU & NATO country is an attack on all of us.' 

British officials have been drawing up plans to hit back hard at Russia if they do not have an explanation.

Tough sanctions could target the Kremlin and Putin's cronies, freezing assets and stopping them from travelling to the UK.

They are also expected to expel many of Russia's diplomats - although probably not break off diplomatic relations altogether.

Police have put a forensics tent over the parking meter outside Salisbury's Sainsbury's store amid fears it was used by Sergei Skripal © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Police have put a forensics tent over the parking meter outside Salisbury's Sainsbury's store amid fears it was used by Sergei Skripal But Britain will need to get support from the UN and Nato allies in order to impose sanctions that will really bite and be felt by the Kremlin.

The PM dramatically pointed the finger at Putin for the poison attack on Monday, saying it was'highly likely' it was linked to Russia.

Branding the attack a 'reckless and despicable act', Mrs May said the substance used was a 'military grade' agent Moscow has produced.

Vladimir Putin wearing a suit and tie: Vladimir Putin said in a Russia TV interview he could forgive nearly everything, but not 'betrayal' - but the Kremlin has denied plotting to kill Sergei Skripal © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Vladimir Putin said in a Russia TV interview he could forgive nearly everything, but not 'betrayal' - but the Kremlin has denied plotting to kill Sergei Skripal Together with Russia's previous actions and tactics, including the killing of Alexander Litvinenko, the UK authorities concluded it was 'highly likely' to be involved in the episode. 

Mrs May said the government would not accept such an attempt to 'murder innocent civilians on our soil'. 

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said allies are mobilising to support the UK and hit back at Russia. Speaking yesterday, he said: 'I've been very encouraged so far by the strength of the support that we are getting.

'I think in particular from President Macron of France, I talked to Sigmar Gabriel my German counterpart, and from Washington where Rex Tillerson last night made it absolutely clear that he sees this as part of a pattern of disruptive behaviour, increasingly disruptive behaviour, malign behaviour by Russia, the reckless use of chemical weapons, the support for the reckless use of chemical weapons which stretches from Syria now to the streets of Salisbury.

'I've been encouraged by the willingness of our friends to show support and solidarity.' 

a person holding a glass of wine: Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia (pictured in Zizzi in 2016) left a trail of nerve agent in the restaurant after their poisoning © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia (pictured in Zizzi in 2016) left a trail of nerve agent in the restaurant after their poisoning Whitehall sources said they were accelerating their offensive cyber programme and could hit select targets for a specific effect. 

It is understood this could see a specialist cyber unit deployed in the UK to attack Kremlin computer networks spewing Russian propaganda and trolling factories spreading fake news. 

General Sir Chris Deverell, commander of Joint Forces Command, has revealed how the UK has a specialist unit which is dedicated to 'offensive cyber' run jointly by the MoD and GCHQ.

a man standing next to a truck: Locals have said chemical weapons experts are removing a potentially contaminated vehicle from a local business © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Locals have said chemical weapons experts are removing a potentially contaminated vehicle from a local business So far it has worked on Islamic State but this could be expanded towards Russia.

In an interview with the Mail last week, he said the military could hit back at disinformation spread by Russian trolling factories. 

He said: 'There are two ways you could respond. One is putting your own messages out to compete with the messages that actors like that are sending. And the other is with a cyber-attack.

' a stack of flyers on a city street © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Whether or not you could use cyber as a weapon would depend upon the specific circumstances and the law.' He said that there was a specific capability in which troops tackle mistruths spread by enemies. 

Another option is for the Government to implement a British version of the US's Magnitsky Act, which lists Russians involved in corruption and human rights abuses, banning them from entering the country.  

The Kremlin was given a deadline of midnight to respond to the evidence, but has refused to do so.  

a person standing next to a car: Soldiers in Hazmat suits closed down a village near Salisbury yesterday as they removed a recovery truck thought to have towed Mr Skripal's car from the scene © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Soldiers in Hazmat suits closed down a village near Salisbury yesterday as they removed a recovery truck thought to have towed Mr Skripal's car from the scene Doubts were raised about the US's backing yesterday when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was sacked hours after condemning Russia.

However, it appears the axing of Mr Tillerson was unrelated and Mr Trump has now offered his support.   

The Russian whistleblower who exposed the country's secret chemical weapons programme has revealed the horrific effect of the Novichok nerve agents on their victims.

Vil Mirzayanov described the use of the lethal toxins as a 'brazen' attack by Vladimir Putin, who 'thinks he can use everything to kill enemies'.

Mr Mirzayanov says a large dose of Novichok 'paralyses' victims before 'it causes convulsions, you can't breathe and after that you die'.

a man holding a sign: Vil Mirzayanov (pictured) described the use of the lethal toxins as a ‘brazen’ attack by Vladimir Putin, who ‘thinks he can use everything to kill enemies’ © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Vil Mirzayanov (pictured) described the use of the lethal toxins as a ‘brazen’ attack by Vladimir Putin, who ‘thinks he can use everything to kill enemies’

The exiled scientist shocked the world in 1992 when he revealed that promises by the Soviet Union to reduce its chemical weapon stockpiles were hollow.

He worked in the top-secret Moscow laboratory where a new generation of even more potent poisons was being perfected.

These gruesome chemical weapons, named 'Novichok' after the Russian for 'newcomer', were designed to be even more lethal than VX or sarin.

a man wearing a suit and tie: Vil Mirzayanov described the use of the lethal toxins as a ‘brazen’ attack by Vladimir Putin (pictured), who ‘thinks he can use everything to kill enemies’ © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Vil Mirzayanov described the use of the lethal toxins as a ‘brazen’ attack by Vladimir Putin (pictured), who ‘thinks he can use everything to kill enemies’ At the time, one former top Soviet military adviser described them as 'political weapons', adding: 'They have a powerful moral and psychological effect.'

Shockingly, they can be created from common, unrestricted and undetectable industrial and agricultural chemicals available worldwide.

As a result, weapons inspectors fear other rogue nations, including Syria and North Korea, could have their own lethal stockpiles of the powerful nerve agents.

Speaking from his home in New Jersey, Mr Mirzayanov, 83, described the top-secret laboratory as a 'criminal enterprise'.

a large city landscape: One of the few labs capable of producing a nerve agent like that used in the attack on a Russian double agent in the UK is in Russia's foreign intelligence headquarters, it was claimed today © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited One of the few labs capable of producing a nerve agent like that used in the attack on a Russian double agent in the UK is in Russia's foreign intelligence headquarters, it was claimed today 'It's a brazen attack,' he said. 'Putin thinks he can use everything to kill enemies. They don't tolerate any opponents.

'They should be punished. It's an open demonstration of this Russian terrorism.

'The Russian government is telling people who are thinking about revealing more secrets that they can expect the same fate.'

Asked how the nerve agent works, he added: 'It's for paralysing people, it causes you convulsions and you can't breathe and after that you die. If you get enough of a dose of it.

'It's real torture, it's impossible to imagine. Even in low doses the pain can go on for weeks. You cannot imagine the horror, it's so bad.'

police officers riding on the back of a car: Military personnel in chemical suits searching the car park behind Salisbury Police Station © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Military personnel in chemical suits searching the car park behind Salisbury Police Station The Novichok family of nerve agents were secretly developed over two decades at a research facility 50 miles outside the Russian capital.

Many times more potent than other better known chemical weapons, Novichok agents can render gas masks and protective equipment useless.

Sometimes described as 'gases' they are in fact liquid, intended to be delivered as a fine spray.

A series of poisons, known as Novichok 5, 7, 8 and 9 to identify them, were produced amid conditions of complete secrecy.

They all kill the same way. By inhibiting enzymes that control nerve receptors in the brain.

a truck driving down a street: Soldiers in Hazmat suits yesterday loaded up and removed an ambulance believed to have taken Miss Skripal to hospital © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Soldiers in Hazmat suits yesterday loaded up and removed an ambulance believed to have taken Miss Skripal to hospital One expert said victims simply 'forget to breathe'. A tiny drop, almost undetectable, placed on the skin or inhaled can cause death within minutes.

Describing his work, Mr Mirzayanov said: 'They were normal laboratories, they were not underground or anything. They were testing and developing.

'There were around 1,000 people working on this, it was a big deal. You have to test it on animals and after that you have to study the chemical properties... so many laboratories were involved.'

In 1987, one physicist at the laboratory was saved despite being exposed to the chemical when a ventilator stopped working. Witnesses described how he staggered out of the room, describing seeing bright hallucinations before collapsing and being rushed to hospital by the KGB. He was left with permanent injuries after being critically ill for ten days and unable to walk for six months.

Last night experts described nerve agents such as Novichok as second only to the 'atom bomb' as the most deadly weapons ever made. They said that because the ingredients were so common, the poison was ideal for use in an assassination, as well as a weapon of mass destruction.

Pharmacology expert Professor Gary Stephens said: 'This is a more dangerous and sophisticated agent than sarin or VX and is harder to identify. It causes a slowing of the heart and restriction of the airways, leading to death by asphyxiation.

a truck is parked on the side of a road: A police car was loaded up to be removed yesterday as the Army and emergency services continue the clean-up operation © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited A police car was loaded up to be removed yesterday as the Army and emergency services continue the clean-up operation 'One of the main reasons these agents are developed is because their component parts are not on the banned list. It means the chemicals that are mixed to create it are much easier to deliver with no risk to the health of the courier.'

Professor Robert Stockman, of the University of Nottingham, said traces of nerve agents did not linger. He added: 'These agents react with water to degrade, including moisture in the air, and so in the UK they would have a very limited lifetime. This is presumably why the street in Salisbury was being hosed down as a precaution – it would effectively destroy the agent.'

Russia went into denial early today, with a former FSB chief claiming scientists at Porton Down had poisoned ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

A top Moscow chemical weapons expert echoed the charge while also alleging nerve agent novichok did not exist.

Moscow was scrambling today to respond to Theresa May's demand for an explanation for the Salisbury attack by midnight.

In an extraordinary blast, Vladimir Putin's predecessor as FSB secret service chief Nikolay Kovalyov claimed Porton Down government laboratory - which identified Russian-made novichok as the agent that poisoned the Skripals - was likely to have been behind the attack.

'There is a laboratory (near Salisbury), which is famous all over the world,' he dismissively told Britain.

'Check if anything leaked from there.'

Meanwhile, chemical weapons scientist Dr Anton Utkin - a former UN inspector in Iraq - denied the existence of novichok, and echoed the claim that Britain maybe responsible for the poisoning.

He led the destruction of chemical weapons in Russia.

'I was dealing with elimination of Russian chemical weapons and with all the responsibility I can say that we have never had a weapon under this name,' he said.

Actually, it is very strange that British experts have found out the formula of this 'super secret' poison nobody knows about. It is not clear either how they managed to determine that it was produced in Russia.

'If you know the technology, it is not possible to find out who made a chemical weapon – if the method is the same, the formulas of the substances will be identical. So this news only provokes more questions.'

Utkin said the West had earlier made a 'toxic noise' about Russia's alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria.

'And now right in the heart of Great Britain this traitor is killed with a neuroparalytic substance.

'All this happens at a very convenient time – before the Russian presidential election and World Cup. If I were British, I would not blame Russians but check my own security systems first.

'Something strange is happening there – it is not the first time when criminals are walking around the country with highly toxic and radioactive substances and the secret services have no idea about it.'

Dr Utkin has worked for the State Scientific Research Institute of Organic Chemistry and Technology which is suspected of being behind the development of novichik starting in 1973.

Kovalyov, now an MP, said the accusations by May were a 'provocation' against Russia.

There was no sense for Russia seek to kill a spy convicted 12 years ago when the publicity would damage the campaign for the presidential election, he said.

'Just be logical. There is no logic here,' he said. 'England is turning into a dangerous country.'

'If I were to speak for the Ministry for Foreign affairs, I would have issued a statement that would not recommend our spies and traitors to live there because it is dangerous to these citizens,' he said. 'The chain is already rather long.'

Government to consider expelling Russian diplomats on the back of UK spy attack .
Government to consider expelling Russian diplomats on the back of UK spy attackVaradkar has said that he has spoken to Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney on the matter and that a decision will be made next week, RTÉ is reporting.

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