MOSCOW, March 18. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday he had learnt about the Skripal case from the media and vowed Russia possesses no such toxic agents.
"As for the tragedy you have mentioned, I learnt about it from the mass media. And the first thing that comes to my mind is that should it really be a warfare agent, people would have died instantly. It is an obvious fact," he said. "Russia does not possess such agents. We have destroyed all our chemical arsenals under control of international observers."
According to the Russian leader, Russia was the first country to destroy its chemical weapons, unlike its partners who had promised to do that but had failed to fulfill their liabilities. "We are ready for cooperation and said that immediately. We are ready to take part in all necessary probes but the will of the other side is needed for that. So far, we see none," Putin stressed, adding that possible joint work was still on the agenda.
He said that it was clear for any sober-minded person that this situation "is absolute nonsense" as it was unconceivable "that anyone in Russia could afford such reckless things ahead of the presidential elections and the FIFA World Cup." "It’s simply impossible," he said.
Nonetheless, despite all the problems, Russia is ready to continue joint work with Western partners, to "discuss any issues and overcome any difficulties."
On March 4, former Russian military intelligence Colonel Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were exposed to a nerve agent in the city of Salisbury. They were found unconscious on a bench near a shopping center. Both are currently in the hospital in critical condition. British Prime Minister Theresa May accused Russia of "an unlawful use of force" against her country. Subsequently, she announced that London would expel 23 Russian diplomats and take other measures against Moscow. Russia has vehemently denied its alleged involvement in the incident and said retaliatory measures would follow soon.