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'Nonsense' that Russian Federation behind spy poisoning, says Vladimir Putin

'Nonsense' that Russian Federation behind spy poisoning, says Vladimir Putin

In Moscow on Sunday, Russian President Vladimir Putin called it "total rubbish, drivel and nonsense" that someone in Russia would carry out such "antics" so close to Russia's presidential election and the football World Cup that starts in June in Russia.

Britain has said that Skripal and his daughter were poisoned by the Soviet-era "Novichok" nerve agent, and British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said on Sunday that Russian Federation has been stockpiling it and investigating how such weapons could be used in assassinations.

He said it was "nonsense" to think that anyone in Russian Federation could have staged such an attack shortly before Sunday's presidential vote and before the World Cup that Russian Federation is set to host this summer.

In his first public comments about the nerve agent attack, the Russian president said Moscow was ready to cooperate with the British government on the investigation. "But if the victim has already died, experts said, the police could easily mistake the cause of death for a simple heart attack". "We are ready to take part in the investigation, but it's necessary that the other side shows interest in that too". I believe this is a pattern of behaviour we have seen'.

He also said officials from the Netherlands-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons would arrive Monday in Britain to take samples of the nerve agent used to poison the Skripals. The results are expected to take at least two weeks.

Mr Johnson will travel to Brussels to brief foreign ministers from across the European Union at a meeting on Monday on the attempted assassinations, before holding talks with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation secretary general Jens Stoltenberg.

Prime Minister Theresa May told MPs last week that the substance used in the attack had been identified as belonging to a group of military-grade nerve agents known as Novichok, developed by the Soviet Union.

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He told ITV's Peston on Sunday: "We support exactly what the prime minister said and we condemn Russian Federation for this, condemn them".

Chizhov pointed out that the United Kingdom chemical weapons research facility, Porton Down, is only eight miles from Salisbury, where Skripal - a former Russian intelligence officer convicted in his home country of spying for Britain- and his daughter were found March 4.

Mr Chizhov, however, backed away when asked whether he was accusing Britain of exposing the Skripals to the lethal poison, saying: "I don't know".

The tit-for-tat may continue this week.

"These will then be despatched to highly-reputable global laboratories selected by the OPCW for testing with results expected to take a minimum of two weeks", Britain's Foreign Office said in a statement.

He said these could include "defending ourselves against cyberattack, (and) looking at any economic measures that could be taken against Russians who corruptly obtained their wealth".

Russia's ambassador in London, Alexander Yakovenko, called for "cooler heads", telling the Mail on Sunday that the dispute is "escalating dangerously and out of proportion".

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