Russian Federation tested nerve agents on door handles, says UK

Salisbury spy poisoned row

Sedwill also said Russia had a clear motive for attacking Skripal, a former Russian military intelligence officer who had been imprisoned in Russia for spying for Britain, only to be set free in a spy swap.

Sedwill's letter to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation chief detailed the grounds on which British authorities hold Russian Federation responsible of a suspected nerve agent attack targeting Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury six weeks ago.

Yulia was discharged from Salisbury District Hospital this week while her father remains in the hospital.

Sergei Skripal, the former Russian military intelligence colonel who was recruited by British intelligence, and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious on March 4 at a shopping center in Salisbury, England.

"The codeword for the offensive chemical weapons programme (of which Novichoks were one part) was FOLIANT", he said.

The global chemical weapons watchdog has said an analysis of samples gathered from Sergei Skripal, Yulia Skripal, and detective sergeant Nick Bailey - who was affected during the emergency response - confirmed the U.K.'s assessment of the incident.

According to Sedwill, Russia regards some of its defectors as "legitimate targets for assassination".

He pointed to the Owen Report from the UK's public inquiry into the death of Aleksandr Litvinenko which concluded in 2016 that he was "deliberately poisoned with Polonium 210, that there was a "strong probability" that the FSB (Russia's security agency) directed the operation, and that President Putin "probably approved it".

Britain has said the use of such an obscure poison indicates Moscow was either to blame or had lost control over its nerve agents.

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Sedwill said Britain had information that Russian cyber specialists monitored Yulia's emails since at least 2013. "We didn't see any signs, any applications from the British side that they are not happy with the way Skripals were living in Salisbury".

Sedwill said Russian Federation, despite being part of the global chemical weapons convention, had been producing a small stockpile of Novichoks and tested ways of using nerve agents in the 2000s "including by application to door handles".

The UK authorities have accused Russian Federation of orchestrating an attack on the Skripals with a Soviet-era A234 nerve agent. "Within the last decade, Russian Federation has produced and stockpiled small quantities of novichok under the same program". It demanded access to her and prodded Britain to share evidence in the case.

"I want to underline: the OPCW only has confirmed the composition of the chemical agent", Lavrov said at a news conference.

Lavrov said the report does nothing to back the British allegations that Moscow was behind the attack.

She said she had declined an offer of assistance from the Russian embassy "at the moment".

"There is no plausible alternative explanation", he added.

"In the interest of transparency, and because unlike the Russians we have nothing to hide, we have asked the OPCW to publish the executive summary for all to see", Mr Johnson said in a statement.

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