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Russian embassy demands explanation from UK Foreign Office about cyber attack threats

The Times said earlier, citing its sources in the UK government, that Britain was mulling staging a cyber attack on Russia in response to the poisoning of Sergey Skripal and his daughter

LONDON, March 13. /TASS/. Russia’s embassy in London said on Tuesday it has requested official explanations from the UK Foreign Office concerning cyber attack threats.

"Embassy has officially requested explanations from Foreign Office on the cyber attack threats heard at Parliament and in the media. Russia takes a serious view on cyber security breaches," the embassy wrote on its Twitter account.

Earlier in the day, the Russia embassy in London said that Moscow was seriously alarmed over British MPs’ statements on possible cyber attacks on Russia.

"Statements by a number of MPs, "Whitehall sources" and "experts" regarding a possible "deployment" of "offensive cyber-capabilities" cause serious concern. Not only is Russia groundlessly and provocatively accused of the Salisbury incident, but, apparently, plans are being developed in the UK to strike Russia with cyber weapons," the embassy’s press secretary said. "Judging by the statements of the prime minister, such a decision can be taken at tomorrow’s meeting of the National Security Council. We invite the British side to once again consider the consequences of such a reckless move."

The Times said earlier on Tuesday, citing its sources in the UK government that Britain was looking at staging a cyber attack on Russia in response to the poisoning of former Russian military intelligence Colonel Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

According to the newspaper, the British ministry of defense jointly with the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) was working on an offensive cyber program to attack the Kremlin’s network or websites circulating what the British side dubbed as fake news.

Skripal case

Former Russian military intelligence (GRU) officer Sergei Skripal, 66, and his 33-year-old daughter Julia on March 4 suffered from the effects of an unidentified nerve agent. They were found slumped on a bench near The Maltings shopping center in Salisbury. Both are now in hospital in critical condition.

In 2004, Colonel Skripal was arrested by Russia’s federal security service FSB, charged with high treason, convicted to 13 years in prison and stripped of all ranks and awards. In 2010, he was handed over to the United States under an arrangement to exchange persons arrested on spying charges. Later in the same year Skripal settled in Britain.

On March 12, British Prime Minister Theresa May said it was highly likely that Russia was responsible for the attack on Skripal and his daughter. She identified the substance used in the attack as a Novichok nerve agent, developed in the Soviet Union. She described the incident as a "reckless, indiscriminate and irresponsible" act against the United Kingdom.

On Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Moscow had nothing to do with the poisoning of Skripal and his daughter. He pointed out that Russia had received no requests from the UK concerning a substance allegedly used in the Salisbury incident. The Russian top diplomat drew attention to the fact that under the Chemical Weapons Convention the United Kingdom is to immediately contact the country suspected of the use of a poisonous substance and provide access to the substance in question. The Convention gives ten days to respond to the request, he added.