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Britain has no substantial evidence that Russia was behind the recent nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy on English soil, says an American political analyst in Virginia.
Similar allegations have previously been made against Moscow but “none of these accusations have ever been substantiated or proven,” said Keith Preston, chief editor of AttacktheSystem.com.
Organized crime is a serious problem in Russia and some of these attacks may be linked to criminal groups rather the Russian state, Preston told Press TV in a phone interview on Monday.
“We have never substantiated that the Russian government is behind this,” he added. “These are merely claims and accusations.”
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson claimed Friday that it is “overwhelmingly likely” that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally ordered the nerve agent attack against a former Russian spy in southern England.
Sergei Skripal, a former double agent and colonel in Russia’s foreign intelligence agency, and his daughter have been critically ill since March 4, when they were found unconscious on a bench in the southern English city of Salisbury.
Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were allegedly attacked by a nerve agent developed by the Soviet military.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision on Wednesday to expel 23 Russians over the alleged attack has pushed Moscow’s relations with London to a post-Cold War low. In a sign of just how tense the relationship has become, British and Russian ministers have used openly insulting language over the alleged poisoning.
May also announced a range of economic and diplomatic measures, including a decision to cancel all high-level bilateral contacts with Moscow. She said no ministers or members of the royal family will attend the football World Cup in Russia.
Russia plans to expel UK diplomats in retaliation for Britain’s actions.
Answering a reporter on Friday in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow will retaliate for Britain’s diplomatic expulsions. “We will, of course,” he said.