Russia trolls UK foreign office over tweet

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THE UK Foreign Office has raised eyebrows for deleting a tweet in which it claimed that experts had established that the nerve agent used in the Salisbury poisoning case was “produced in Russia”.

The tweet stated that “analysis by world-leading experts at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down “made clear that this was a military-grade novichok nerve agent produced in Russia”.

It added that Porton Down, which is located just outside Salisbury, was an “OPCW (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) accredited and a “designated laboratory”.

On Wednesday night, the Russian Embassy in the UK noted that the March 22 post was conspicuously missing from the Foreign Office’s timeline.

It decided to call them out by posting a screenshotting a cached version of the deleted tweet and captioning it with the question: “Why would @foreignoffice delete this tweet from 22 March?”

Why would @foreignoffice delete this tweet from 22 March?

— Russian Embassy, UK (@RussianEmbassy) April 4, 2018

It followed an embarrassing admission by Porton Down’s chief executive, Gary Aitkenhead, that scientists had not found definitive proof that the novichok used to poison Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia did in fact come from Russia.

“We were able to identify it as novichok, a military grade agent, we have not verified the precise source, but provided the scientific information to the government who have then used a number of other sources to piece together the conclusions that they have come to,” Mr Aitkenhead told Sky News.

“It’s a military-grade nerve agent, which requires extremely sophisticated methods in order to create – something that’s probably only within the capabilities of a state actor.”

More than 20 countries, including Australia, have expelled Russian diplomats since Britain declared it was convinced that the Russian government was behind the attack.

Russia has vehemently denied any involvement, claiming it had no motive to murder Skripal and suggesting that the nerve agent could have been produced by anyone from the Ukraine to Britain itself in a bid to frame Russia.

#Zakharova: Porton Down chief Gary Aitkenhead announced that he cannot confirm that the nerve agent used to poison Sergey Skripal and his daughter was produced in Russia

— MFA Russia 🇷🇺 (@mfa_russia) April 4, 2018

Sergei and Yulia Skripal were poisoned one month ago. Russia has been waiting for answers and compliance from the British side all this time. UK only issued 24-hour ultimatums.

— Russian Embassy, UK (@RussianEmbassy) April 4, 2018

Mr Aitkenhead denied Russian accusations that the novichok could have come from Porton Down — which is located just 12 km from where the Skripals were poisoned.

“There’s no way that anything like that would ever have come from us or leave the four walls of our facilities,” he told Sky News.

Mr Aitkenhead’s comments have prompted the Kremlin to demand an apology from British Prime Minister Theresa May, whom it has accused of lying to the world about the novichok’s origins.

The Russian embassy in London said the UK’s claims that Moscow was behind the attack was a “bluff”.

“This has been confirmed by the head of the secret lab. This only proves that all political declarations on the Russian origin of the crime are nothing but assumptions not stemming from objective facts or the course of the investigation.”

Meanwhile, President Vladimir Putin said there were 20 countries that can manufacture the chemical substance.

“Scotland Yard is on record for saying they need a couple of months for the investigation, the laboratory president has said they there weren’t able to detect the origin, they were not able to make it clear how it was manufactured in Russia,” he said, according to The Australian.

The deleted tweet revelation placed further pressure on Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to explain whether the government has shifted it position on whom it believes responsible for the attack

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has called for an investigation into whether Mr Johnson had “misled” the British public over Russian involvment by exaggerating the Porton Down findings.

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