Thursday, 13 December 2018, 02:00:23 pm
Russia warns of reprisals if UK acts over spy attack
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March 14, 2018

LONDON: Russia warned Britain to expect reprisals if it announces sanctions over the poisoning of a former double agent, as the US and other allies joined London in demanding answers on how a Soviet-designed nerve agent was used in the attack.

British Prime Minister Theresa May says Russia was "highly likely" to be behind the attack, giving Moscow until midnight Tuesday to provide answers on the March 4 poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov insisted "Russia is not guilty", saying it was ready to cooperate with Britain but complaining that its request for samples of the nerve agent had been rejected.

The Russian embassy said it had formally demanded the government allow a joint investigation, saying "without that, there can be no sense in any statements from London". In the first sign of the practical implications of the growing diplomatic crisis, Russia threatened to bar all British media if British authorities banned the Kremlin-backed RT broadcaster. British regulator Ofcom has warned it could review RT's licence if Russia were found to have been responsible for the attack on Skripal, who came to Britain in a 2010 spy swap.

The United States, NATO and the European Union have all backed Britain in its stand-off with Moscow, following what is believed to be the first nerve agent attack in Europe since World War II. In a phone call with May on Tuesday, US President Donald Trump said Russia must "provide unambiguous answers". AFP