UPDATE: UK leader says it is 'Highly likely' Russia behind poison

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LONDON (AP) — 6:25 p.m.

A senior Russian lawmaker says the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal was a "provocation" against Russia that could have been staged by British secret services.

Vladimir Dzhabarov, a deputy head of the foreign affairs committee in the upper house of Russian parliament, rejected British Prime Minister Theresa May's claim of possible Russian involvement in Skripal's death as "nonsense."

He added that it would make no sense for Russia to attack the ex-spy, "whom no one needed" and who was swapped for Russian spies caught in the U.S. in a 2010 deal.

Dzhabarov alleged Monday that "secret services of Britain or some other countries might have staged the provocation with Skripal in order to smear Russia" in the run-up to Russia's March 18 presidential election and the World Cup set to be hosted by Russia this summer.

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6 p.m.

A spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry has dismissed Britain's claim that Moscow was responsible for poisoning ex-spy Sergei Skripal as a "circus show."

The ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said in remarks carried by Russian news agencies that the accusations against Russia represented "another information and political campaign based on a provocation."

Zakharova described British Prime Minister Theresa May's assertion that the evidence so far indicates Russian involvement was highly likely as "a circus show in the British Parliament."

May told British lawmakers on Monday that Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were exposed to a nerve agent known as Novichok, a weapon developed in the Soviet Union at the end of the Cold War

May said Monday that should Russian state involvement be proven, it would be considered an "unlawful use of force by the Russian state against the United Kingdom." The British leader gave the Russian ambassador until the end of Tuesday to respond.

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5:45 p.m.

The widow of a former KGB agent who died after he defected to England says Britain should adopt a U.S. list sanctioning individuals from Russia suspected of committing crimes abroad.

Alexander Litvinenko died in November 2006, three weeks after drinking tea containing radioactive material. A U.K. public inquiry concluded in 2016 he'd been killed by Russia's security service.

His widow, Marina Litvinenko told The Associated Press in an interview Monday that following the recent poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a Russian who spied for Britain, the U.K. should join other countries in targeting individuals named in the U.S. Magnitsky Act for sanctions.

She says other measures may also be necessary, but "when you allow these people to use your country for holiday, for buying property, to raise their children, it means you allow them to do everything."

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5:20 p.m.

British Prime Minister Theresa May says her government has concluded it is "highly likely" Russia is responsible for the poisoning of an ex-spy and his daughter.

May told British lawmakers on Monday that Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were exposed to a nerve agent known as Novichok (Novice), a weapon developed in the Soviet Union in the end of the Cold War

May says the attack in a city in England fits a pattern of Russian aggression and that Russia's ambassador to the U.K. has been summoned to explain what happened.

She said: "We will not tolerate such a brazen attempt to murder innocent civilians on our soil."

Skripal and his daughter remain in critical condition more than a week after they were found unconscious in Salisbury on March 4.

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5:10 p.m.

British Prime Minister Theresa May says the Russian ex-spy poisoned in England was exposed to a military-grade nerve agent of type produced by Russia

May told lawmakers during an address in parliament on Monday it was "highly likely' Russia was responsible for poisoning Sergei Skripal, the former Russian military intelligence officer who was convicted of spying for Britain.

May says Russia's ambassador to the U.K. has been summoned to explain how a Russian nerve agent turned up in Salisbury, the English city where Skripal and his adult daughter were sickened.

The British prime minister says if Moscow is proven to be behind the poisoning, her government will consider it an "unlawful use of force" by Russia.

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2:20 p.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says Britain should figure out what happened to ex-spy Sergei Skripal before blaming the poisoning on Russia.

Asked by a British reporter in southern Russia if Russia was behind the poisoning, Putin said in comments carried by Russian news wires on Monday: "You first get to the bottom of things over there, and after that we can discuss it."

Skripal is a former Russian military intelligence officer who was convicted of spying in Britain and released from prison as part of a spy swap.

He and his daughter remain in critical condition following the March 4 nerve agent attack in England. Authorities haven't said what nerve agent was used.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to update lawmakers later Monday on the case.

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11:40 a.m.

The Kremlin has rejected suggestions that it might be behind the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy and his daughter that has left them in critical condition.

Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for President Vladimir Putin, told reporters that Sergei Skripal worked for British intelligence and was poisoned on British soil, and therefore the incident "has nothing to do with Russia, let alone the Russian leadership." Peskov also said the Kremlin has not heard any official statements of Russian involvement.

Earlier Monday, senior British lawmaker Tom Tugendhat told the BBC the March 4 poisoning of Skripal and his daughter Yulia is looking "like it was state-sponsored attempted murder." The British prime minister is chairing a National Security Council meeting later on Monday to hear the latest evidence.

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9:10 a.m.

British Prime Minister Theresa May will update lawmakers Monday on the nerve-agent poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, and a senior lawmaker said he expects her to blame the Russian government.

Tom Tugendhat, who chairs Parliament's Foreign Affairs committee, said the case is "looking awfully like it was state-sponsored attempted murder."

He told the BBC that he expected May to point the finger of blame "toward the Russian state." Tugendhat said the difficulty of manufacturing and transporting highly dangerous nerve agents suggested state backing for the attack.

May chaired a National Security Council meeting Monday to hear the latest evidence in the case. She was under mounting pressure to hit Russia with sanctions, diplomatic expulsions and other measures in response to the poisoning, the latest in a string of mysterious mishaps to befall Russians in Britain in recent years.

May's office said she would make a statement in the House of Commons late Monday afternoon, but gave no indication of what she would say.

Spokesman James Slack said "it is important that we allow the police to get on with their work, that we gather all the evidence and if we get to a position when we are able to attribute this attack then we will do so and the government will deliver an appropriate response."

Skripal, 66, and his 33-year-old daughter Yulia remain in critical condition following the March 4 nerve agent attack. A police detective is hospitalized in serious condition, but is reported by British officials to be sitting up and talking.

Authorities haven't said what nerve agent was used.

The case has similarities to the killing of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, who was poisoned with radioactive tea in London in 2006. A British inquiry concluded that his death was the work of the Russian state and had probably been authorized by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Kremlin has rejected suggestions that it's behind the poisoning.

Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Sergei Skripal worked for British intelligence and was poisoned on British soil, and therefore the incident "has nothing to do with Russia, let alone the Russian leadership." Peskov also said the Kremlin hasn't heard any official statements of Russian involvement.

Skripal worked for Russian military intelligence when he was recruited to spy for Britain in the 1990s. He was jailed in Russia in 2006, was freed in a spy swap in 2010 and had settled in the cathedral city of Salisbury, 90 miles (140 kilometers) southwest of London.

He and his daughter were found comatose on a bench near the city center after visiting an Italian restaurant and a pub.

British officials have said the risk to the public is low but have urged people who visited the Zizzi restaurant or the Mill pub to wash their clothes and take other precautions.

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Jim Heintz in Moscow contributed to this story.