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Putin hopes OPCW session on April 4 will draw line in Skripal case

According to Putin, "at least 20 issues" have been put on the agenda

ANKARA, April 3. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday he hopes a line in the notorious Skripal case will be drawn at a session of the Executive Council of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on April 4.

"I would like to inform you, although we have already told about that, we are convening a OPCW Executive Council session tomorrow to look into the situation in detail," Putin said after talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara. "I hope this session will draw a line as to what really happened."

According to Putin, "at least 20 issues" have been put on the agenda. He stressed that Russia was interested in an all-round investigation. "We want to be granted access to this investigation and hope to receive relevant materials as it is about Russian citizens," he said, adding that Russia’s Investigative Committee had opened a criminal case over the incident.

He also said that this topic had been briefly touched upon at his talks with the Turkish leaders. "We spoke about it in brief, Mr. President asked some questions about it," Putin said.

Putin said he was astonished at how rapidly the anti-Russian campaign has been whipped up on the backdrop of the Skripal case. "It is astonishing how rapidly the anti-Russian campaign has been whipped up," he noted.

Sky News reported on Tuesday, citing Chief Executive of the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) at Porton Down Gary Aitkenhead as saying that experts from the British Porton Down chemical weapons research center had been unable to identify the origin of the nerve agent used to poison former Russian military intelligence (GRU) Colonel Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. "We were able to identify it as novichok, to identify that it was military-grade nerve agent," he said. "We have not identified the precise source, but we have provided the scientific info to government who have then used a number of other sources to piece together the conclusions."

He also pointed out that "it is our job to provide the scientific evidence of what this particular nerve agent is, we identified that it is from this particular family and that it is a military-grade, but it is not our job to say where it was manufactured."

Skripal case

On March 4, former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal, who had been earlier sentenced in Russia for spying for the UK, and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious on a bench near the Maltings shopping center in Salisbury, UK. Police said they had been exposed to a nerve agent.

Later, London claimed that the toxin of Novichok-class had been allegedly developed in Russia. With that, the UK rushed to accuse Russia of being involved, while failing to produce any evidence. Moscow refuted the accusations that it had participated in the incident and points out that neither the Soviet Union nor Russia have ever done research into that toxic chemical.

Without providing any proof, London expelled 23 Russian diplomats and suspended all planned high-level bilateral contacts. In response, Moscow expelled the equal number of UK diplomats. In addition, Britain’s consulate in St. Petersburg was ordered to be closed and the British Council’s operations in Russia were terminated.

In late March, a number of states, including the United States, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, and a number of other European countries, expelled more than 150 Russian diplomats in all in a show of solidarity with London’s stance. Last week, the Russian foreign ministry announced tit-for-tat measure against these countries.