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Russia Researched Use of Poisoned Door Handles, UK Says

Russia Researched Use of Poisoned Door Handles, UK Says

Russia had spied on ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter for at least five years before the poison attack that put them both in critical condition, the U.K.'s national security advisor said Friday. Alexander Yakovenko also accused the British authorities of destroying evidence in the Salisbury attack and said the British government had yet to produce the evidence to back its claims that Russian Federation was responsible.

In his letter, Sedwill outlines how the Soviet Union "developed a new class of "fourth generation" nerve agents, known as Novichoks" during the 1980s and Russian Federation was probably the only former Soviet republic to pursue "an offensive chemical weapons programme after independence".

Cyber experts from military intelligence agency the GRU targeted Yulia Skripal's email accounts as far back as 2013, according to the security chief.

Sedwill's letter to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation chief detailed the grounds on which British authorities hold Russian Federation responsible of a suspected nerve agent attack targeting Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury six weeks ago.

"There is no plausible alternative explanation", he added.

Turning to how exactly nerve agents are used by Russia, Sedwill said: "During the 2000s, Russia commenced a programme to test means of delivering chemical warfare agents and to train personnel from special units in the use of these weapons".

Russian Federation has denied everything over the Skripal case, including suggesting the United Kingdom may have carried out the attack. The claims come after the global Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons backed Britain's assertion the Skripals were poisoned by Novichok - a military grade nerve agent developed by the Russians in the 1980s.

Russian Federation strongly denies the UK's claims about Novichok, saying it destroyed its entire Soviet-era chemical weapons arsenal past year under global oversight.

It goes on to say that "during the 2000s", Russian Federation created a special unit to develop chemical weapons for use as tools in state-sponsored attacks and to "train personnel from special units in the use of these weapons".

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador has accused the British authorities of destroying evidence in the Salisbury nerve agent attack.

"We therefore continue to judge that only Russia has the technical means, operational experience and motive for the attack on the Skripals, and that it is highly likely that the Russian state was responsible", the letter says.

Sedwill said within the last decade, Russian Federation has produced and stockpiled small quantities of Novichok, which was found on Sergei Skripal's front door.

Yakovenko also said a refusal to their demands to provide consular assistance to Yulia Skripal - a Russian citizen - was a breach of the Vienna Convention.