Sweden calls on Russia to ‘answer UK questions’

Sweden, the Czech Republic and Slovakia have all rejected Moscow's claim they may have produced a deadly nerve agent that poisoned a former Russian spy in Britain.

Sweden calls on Russia to 'answer UK questions'
Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallström. Photo: Wiktor Nummelin/TT

The Kremlin made the accusation after denying allegations by London and allies that it was behind the March 4th attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English city of Salisbury.

“The most likely source of this chemical attack are the countries that, since the end of the 1990s – and currently still – have been carrying out intense research on the substances from the 'Novichok' programme,” Russian foreign ministy spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Saturday.

“These countries are Britain, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Sweden. The question should also be raised regarding the United States.”

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström immediately denied the accusation on Twitter.

“Forcefully reject unacceptable and unfounded allegation by Russian MFA spokesperson that nerve agent used in Salisbury might originate in Sweden. Russia should answer UK questions instead,” she wrote.

Her Czech counterpart Martin Stropnicky said the claim “can in no way be backed by evidence”.

The country's Defence Minister Karla Slechtova and presidential spokesman Jiri Ovcacek also denounced the accusation as “absurd”.

In Bratislava, the foreign ministry said in a statement, “we definitely reject that Slovakia would be connected to chemical weapons and their use”.

“We condemn the attack on Sergei Skripal and we categorically reject the fact that the Slovak Republic has anything in common with it,” ministry spokesman Peter Susko added.

Sweden on Monday said it had summoned Russia's ambassador to the foreign ministry.

International chemical weapons experts were due to arrive in Britain on Monday to collect samples of the nerve agent for testing.

London says the toxin is the Soviet-designed military grade nerve agent called Novichok.