The poisoning attack on an ex-Russian spy on March 4 at Salisbury, England, prompted the UK government to point fingers at Russia for the allegedly brazen assassination attempt.
Though the United States government condemned the attack, the White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was tight-lipped on Kremlin's involvement in the attack using a nerve agent, a Russian chemical weapon.
The day when the Russian double agent was poisoned
Sergei Skripal, a 66-year-old former Russian military intelligence officer, and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious on a bench at the Salisbury beach. The city is located 145 kilometres away from the English capital, London. The duo, who was critically injured during the attack, was reportedly poisoned by a nerve agent after defense experts analysed the chemical weapon at a laboratory.
They were rushed to the Salisbury District Hospital and are reportedly still in a critical condition. The British investigating officers had looked into the attack as an attempted murder.
What was the nerve agent?
The father and daughter duo was critically injured after they were poisoned by a chemical weapon. The chemical, which almost killed them, was later analysed at a science laboratory by experts, following which it was identified as a nerve agent called Novichok, a Russian term for the word "newcomer."
"This is a more dangerous and sophisticated agent than sarin or VX and is harder to identify," Professor Gary Stephens, a pharmacology expert at the University of Reading, was quoted by the BBC as saying.
UK responds to the assassination attempt on NATO soil
The UK government identified the chemical weapon as a Novichok, which was used by the Soviet Union during the Cold War in the 1970s.
British Prime Minister Theresa May claimed that it was "highly likely" that the Russian government had a hand in the poisoning of the former double agent in Salisbury, England.
While describing the nerve agent, May said that either the attack was committed by the Vladimir Putin led Russian government or "the Russian government lost control of this potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others."
She called the act an "unlawful use of force by the Russian State against the United Kingdom."
The US condemns the attack but does not acknowledge Russia's involvement
The White House held a press conference March 12, Monday, condemning the attack but did not utter a word about the Russian involvement that May had accused them of.
Sanders was repeatedly asked about the involvement of Russians in the nerve agent attack, but she did not acknowledge Russia's involvement in the poisoning.
"The use of a highly lethal nerve agent against UK citizens on UK soil is an outrage. The attack was reckless, indiscriminate, and irresponsible. We offer the fullest condemnation. Right now, we are standing with our UK ally. I think they're still working through even some of the details of that, and we're going to continue to work with the UK," Sanders said at the press conference.
Kremlin's response to May's accusations
When Russian President Vladimir Putin was made aware of the accusations from the UK government, he had reportedly asked the British officials to get to the "bottom of things," Reuters reported.
A Kremlin spokesperson denied any Russian involvement in the attack as he claimed it had happened in British soil and the agent also worked for British Intelligence.
"It is a circus show in the British parliament. The conclusion is obvious: It's another political information campaign, based on a provocation," Maria Zakharova, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, was quoted by TASS news agency as saying.
A Russian foreign ministry official had also demanded the access to the nerve agent from the British officials, that poisoned the ex-Russian spy.
РФ официально запросила Лондон о доступе к веществу, которым, предположительно, был отравлен Скрипаль - Лавров— Коммерсантъ FM 93,6 (@KFM936) March 13, 2018