UPDATE: Russia says UK treatment in ex-spy case 'barbaric'
The Russian Foreign Ministry is asking Britain to explain why it has blamed Moscow before the conclusion of an investigation into an ex-spy's poisoning.
The ministry described London's treatment of the March 4 poisoning of Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the English city of Salisbury as "barbaric" and challenged Britain to explain why it immediately accused Moscow while investigators say the probe will take weeks.
The ministry also inquired if Britain had a sample of the nerve agent to conclude that Russia was behind the poisoning. It asked how London could explain the slow action of a supposedly immediately lethal agent.
It also asked Wednesday whether the procedure of taking samples complied with the demands of the international chemical weapons watchdog that will analyze them.
Russia has denounced British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson as "unprofessional and boorish" in an escalating war of words over the poisoning of an ex-spy in Britain.
Johnson agreed on Wednesday with a Labour lawmaker who likened the soccer World Cup hosted by Russia this summer to Adolf Hitler's use of the 1936 Olympics as propaganda for his regime.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Johnson is "poisoned with venom of hate, unprofessionalism and boorishness," adding that "it's scary to remember that this person represents the political leadership of a nuclear power."
She said on Facebook that Johnson's statements were "unacceptable, unworthy of a top European diplomat," adding that it reflected London's efforts to cast Russia as an enemy using the most absurd reasons in order to boycott the World Cup.
European Union Council President Donald Tusk says he is "not in the mood to celebrate President Putin's reappointment" following the nerve agent attack in Britain.
Even if he did not explicitly lay the blame of the attack with Putin, his were some of the strongest words from the EU headquarters following the attack and the re-election of Putin to a six-year term as Russian president.
Tusk's stance toward Putin contrasted sharply with that of EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who congratulated Putin on his re-election on Tuesday.
Relations with Russia and the reaction to the nerve agent attack in Britain will be central themes in the two-day summit of European leaders opening Thursday.
European Union Council President Donald Tusk says the bloc's member states should "reinforce" their preparedness for events like the nerve-agent attack on British soil.
Tusk said on the eve of the two day EU summit that he had "no doubt that all EU leaders will express solidarity with the UK."
At the same time, he added that "it is clear that we should reinforce our preparedness for future attacks, including in cooperation with NATO."
He did not elaborate what such preparations should entail. The 28 EU leaders meet for an EU summit starting Thursday.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson says it is sickening to think of President Vladimir Putin "glorifying" in Russia hosting the World Cup.
After the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Britain said it would not send royals or government ministers to the soccer tournament, though the England team will compete.
Speaking to Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday, Johnson agreed with a Labour lawmaker who likened the event to Adolf Hitler's use of the 1936 Olympics as a propaganda vehicle for his regime.
Johnson says "I think the comparison with 1936 is certainly right. I think it's an emetic prospect, frankly, to think of Putin glorying in this sporting event."
Johnson says the British government is not discouraging fans from attending the tournament, but is concerned about their safety. He says the British embassy official in charge of fan safety was one of 23 diplomats expelled by Russia in a tit-for-tat feud over the poisoning.
A Russian scientist involved in designing a class of nerve agent that allegedly was used to poison an ex-spy in Britain says that lab tests can clearly determine its origin.
Britain blamed Moscow for poisoning former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter with a class of military-grade nerve agent known as Novichok — accusations Moscow have denied.
Vladimir Uglev told The Bell online news portal that the name Novichok common in the West wasn't used by its Soviet designers. He said in an interview posted late Tuesday that numerous variants of such agents were developed by the Soviets in 1972-1988.
Uglev said British chemical experts could have created their versions of such agents. He noted that blood samples would show who produced the agent that poisoned the victims.
A senior Russian diplomat says Moscow wants to take part in an investigation into the poisoning of an ex-spy in Britain, saying Russia's involvement is essential to finding the truth.
Britain has blamed Russia for poisoning Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter with a military-grade nerve agent, accusations Moscow has denied.
Vladimir Yermakov, deputy head of the Foreign Ministry's department for non-proliferation, said at a briefing with foreign diplomats that "it's necessary to present arguments and move jointly toward conclusions," urging Britain to "come forward and open all the data."
He criticized Britain and its Western allies for blaming Russia for the poisoning without providing any evidence. He scoffed at expressions of Western solidarity, saying they are meaningless in the absence of proof.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson says Russia carried out a nerve-agent attack on British soil because the U.K. has "time and again called out Russia over its abuses" of human rights and democratic values.
Britain claims the Russian state was behind the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia with Novichok, a Soviet-developed type of nerve agent. Russia denies involvement in the March 4 attack in the English city of Salisbury.
Johnson told a committee of lawmakers that responsibility leads "back to the Russian state and those at the top."
Britain and Russia have expelled 23 of each other's diplomats in a tit-for-tat response to the attack, and Britain is seeking to rally allies for new measures against Moscow.
Johnson said the nerve-agent attack had prompted "a mountain of disgust globally." He said he had been pleasantly surprised "at the strength of the solidarity that there is with the U.K."
A senior Russian Foreign Ministry official says that Russia won't recognize results of an investigation being conducted by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons of the poisoning of an ex-spy in Britain.
Sergei Skripal and his daughter are still in critical condition after being poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent earlier this month. Britain believes Russia was behind the attack.
Vladimir Yermakov, deputy head of the Foreign Ministry's department for non-proliferation, was asked during a briefing whether Moscow would accept the results of the OPCW probe.
Yermakov said that "unscrupulous efforts" to investigate the attack without sharing the case files with Moscow "is not going to work for us."
Yermakov earlier said Russia is willing to cooperate with Britain as long as it shares all findings of the probe.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is calling for "transparency from Russia" over the nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in Britain.
Britain has blamed Russia for being behind the March 4 poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter. The case prompted the two nations to expel diplomats in a tit-for-tat dispute.
Merkel emphasized Germany's solidarity with Britain in a speech to lawmakers in Berlin on Wednesday. She said that "a lot of evidence points to Russia and so transparency from Russia is required to quell the suspicion."
Merkel added: "I would be happy if I didn't have to name Russia here, but we can't disregard evidence because we don't want to name Russia."
A Russian foreign ministry official says Moscow fears that Britain could destroy key evidence in the nerve agent attack on an ex-Russian spy.
Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter remain in critical condition in the English city of Salisbury after being poisoned on March 4. Britain has blamed Russia for being behind the attack, and the case prompted the two nations to expel diplomats in a tit-for-tat dispute.
Vladimir Yermakov, deputy head of the ministry's department for non-proliferation, told a briefing for foreign envoys Wednesday that Britain is "hiding facts" and that key evidence might "disappear."
The Russian foreign ministry had invited foreign ambassadors in Moscow to brief them about the allegations, but the British and the U.S. missions shunned the meeting and sent lower-level diplomats instead.