Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has stated that Russia will expel British diplomats as the dispute over a nerve attack on the former Russian spy thickens. Boris Johnson, Foreign Secretary of Britain has increased his agenda of accusing Russia of the brutal nerve attack and later glorifying in the same. He stated that Russia is silencing anyone who raises his head against President Putin.
Johnson has repeatedly stated in the media that there is overwhelming evidence against Moscow’s involvement as the access to the Novichok nerve agent was only with Moscow. Skripal had been arrested and jailed in 2006 as he had betrayed the country. He was later freed in a swap deal when he finally took refuge in Britain.
The National Crime Agency and Economic Crimes Unit in Britain was carrying out widespread investigations while the government in Britain was under consequent pressure to take a tough stance against Russia. Boris Johnson stated that there could be more severe action against the wealthy Russians who have assets in Britain. Latter primarily will involve those whose wealth can be assigned to their relationship with President Putin. France, US and other European allies had expressed solidarity with British stance.
Russia on its part has stated that the whole series of allegations are completely baseless. Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for Russian Foreign Ministry said that the statements of Britain PM Theresa May are absolutely insane accusations against the Federation of Russia, the country and the people of Russia.
Novichok Nerve Agent
Novichok stands for a line of deadly nerve agents which had been made by the Soviet Union as part of the program Foliant. They are 5-8 times more powerful than VX. These were initially named as K-84 and A-230 and had more than 100 variants of which the most flexible was A-232. They have never been used on any battlefield. Despite the British allegations, Russia has denied production or even research on these agents. They were initially designed with the motive of being undetectable by any NATO chemical detection equipment and to tear through NATO chemical protective gear in addition to its safer handling advantages. A few of these were also used as binary weapons wherein the precursors of nerve agents were put in munitions which led to the production of the final agent just before its use.
As per Moskovskiye Novosti a Russian publication, two chemists Lev Fedorov and Vil Mirzayanov had revealed in 1992, that Moscow had developed extremely powerful fourth-generation chemical weapons in the 1970s and 1980s. Mirzayanov was the head of the counter-intelligence department and had to perform various experiments outside the chemical weapons facilities of Russia to ensure any foreign spy was not able to detect any trace of production going inside. He disclosed that the level of lethal substances was 80 times more than the safe concentration limits. His revelations disclosed that the Defence Conversion money which was received from the West was channelized to develop a chemical warfare facility. Russian military-industrial complex had admitted to the presence of Novichok agents to prove treason charges against Mirzayanov. Latter was arrested and later released.
There is practically no treatment for an attack of Novichok agent as they have more than one way to harm and block the potent enzymes. Russia had claimed to destroy 39,967 metric tonnes of chemical weapons in 2017 so the resurfacing of Novichok is a real surprise for the international community.