United Kingdom initiates OPCW meeting over Skripal poisoning case

Victims Yulia and Sergei Skripal are set to speak to investigators

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had made a technical assistance visit to Salisbury, where the Skripals were found slumped on March 4 following the suspected attack blamed by London on Russian Federation, which set off a wave of expulsions of diplomatic personnel between the West and Kremlin.

Inspectors working for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons yesterday confirmed the nerve agent used in the Salisbury attack was from the Novichok family.

Foreign secretary Boris Johnson called the results "conclusive".

Johnson said the OPCW had confirmed Britain's assessment that the substance was "a military grade nerve agent - a Novichok". The Kremlin must give answers, ' he added.

United Kingdom authorities identified the highest concentration of the nerve agent at the front door of the Skripal's house.

Yulia Skripal, 33, has been released from the hospital. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Moscow would not believe any conclusions about the poisoning unless Russian experts were given access to the investigation. She insisted it was up to Britain to prove "that these people aren't being held hostage and are not taking part in some frightful game". The embassy, which for weeks has offered a stream of caustic commentary about the incident, quickly suggested that her statement had been fabricated or coerced. "It is now up to Russian Federation to finally play a constructive role and answer the open questions", he said. "So far, we doubt it much".

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Russian Federation has charged that British officials were keeping Skripal's daughter in isolation.

She also thanked Viktoria Skripal for her concern but asked her cousin not to "visit me or try to contact me for the time being".

The UK embassy in Moscow repeated accusations that Russian Federation breached the Chemical Weapons Convention, saying it must be held to account at the OPCW and UN Security Council over the Skripal poisoning.

At a press conference arranged before the letter's release, Russian ambassador to the U.K. Alexander Yakovenko said he was not familiar with the latest allegations.

The letter continues: "By 1993, when Russia signed the Chemical Weapons Convention, it is likely that some Novichoks had passed acceptance testing, allowing their use by the Russian military".

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