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Yulia Skripal says her 'strength is growing daily', in first statement since Salisbury poisoning

Sergei and Yulia Skripal were found unconscious in the English town of Salisbury on 4 March.

Police in protective suits at The Maltings shopping centre following the nerve agent attack
Police in protective suits at The Maltings shopping centre following the nerve agent attack
Image: Ben Birchall via PA Images

Updated at 4.10pm

UK POISONING VICTIM Yulia Skripal has said her “strength is growing daily”, as she released her first statement since the Salisbury nerve agent attack.

Yulia Skripal and her father, ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal, have been in hospital since last month after being found unconscious on a bench in the English town of Salisbury. The Skripals were poisoned by a nerve agent.

In a statement issued by London’s Met Police this afternoon, Yulia Skripal said: “I woke up over a week ago now and am glad to see my strength is growing daily.”

She said she is grateful for the interest in her wellbeing and for the messages of goodwill that she has received.

“I have many people to thank for my recovery and would especially like to mention the people of Salisbury that came to my aid when my father and I were incapacitated,” Skripal said.

“Further than that, I would like to thank the staff at Salisbury District Hospital for their care and professionalism,” she added.

I am sure you appreciate that the entire episode is somewhat disorientating, and I hope that you’ll respect my privacy and that of my friends during this period of my convalescence.

Yulia Skripal did not comment on the current condition of her father.

Tit-for-tat expulsions

The UK has blamed Russia for the poisoning, expelling diplomats in retaliation. Allies of the UK, Ireland among them, have followed suit in expelling Russian diplomats.

In response, the Kremlin has said it would be expelling an equal number of British diplomats.

It has persistently denied involvement in the poisoning.

Russia today demanded an “objective” probe into the case ahead of UN Security Council talks.

Russian state television earlier aired an unverified recording of a phone conversation between Yulia Skripal and her cousin who lives in Moscow.

In the call, a woman introducing herself as Yulia Skripal said she was expecting to be discharged from hospital soon and that her father Sergei was “fine”.

The hospital where the pair are being treated said in their latest update last week that Sergei remained in a critical condition.

‘Legitimate questions’ 

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov today complained that Britain had failed to provide “coherent answers” to Moscow’s questions over the nerve agent attack.

“It will not be possible to ignore the legitimate questions we are asking,” he warned hours before the UN meeting.

The Security Council “should look at this problem in every aspect and, I hope, objectively”, Lavrov said.

Early this morning some 60 US diplomats who were ordered out of Russia left their embassy compound in Moscow.

Russia called a meeting of the global chemical watchdog yesterday over the Salisbury incident, bt failed in its bid to join the probe by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

Russia then requested the Security Council meeting today at 7pm in New York.

Speaking in Moscow, Lavrov called for a “substantial and responsible” probe, while alleging the Skripal case was used by Britain as “a pretext, either made up or staged, for the groundless expulsions of Russian diplomats”.

President Vladimir Putin said on a visit to Ankara yesterday that “common sense” must prevail to avoid “this damage in international relations”.

Moscow was unable to get the required two-thirds of votes from members to approve a joint investigation at Wednesday’s OPCW meeting.

Russia’s UN ambassador Vasily Nebenzia said the meeting in New York would focus on a letter sent by British Prime Minister Theresa May which accused Moscow of carrying out the attempted assassination.

Facing off in The Hague

Yesterday’s bid to secure a joint probe saw a day of bitter rhetoric between Moscow and Britain and its western allies.

London slammed the joint probe idea as “perverse”.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson hailed the defeat of Russia’s bid.

“The purpose of Russia’s ludicrous proposal at The Hague was clear – to undermine the independent, impartial work of the international chemical weapons watchdog,” he said, adding that Moscow’s main goal was “to obscure the truth and confuse the public”.

Britain is carrying out its own probe, with independent technical assistance from OPCW experts.

Sergei Naryshkin, head of Russia’s SVR foreign intelligence, warned yesterday that both sides must avoid tensions escalating to the dangerous levels of the Cold War.

He called the affair a “grotesque provocation … crudely concocted by the British and American security services”.

Kremlin demands apology

OPCW experts have already taken on-site samples which are being analysed in The Hague, as well as in four other certified laboratories. The watchdog said it expected the results by early next week.

But in a move hailed as a vindication by Moscow, the British defence laboratory analysing the nerve agent revealed on Tuesday that it could not say whether the substance came from Russia.

The Kremlin immediately demanded an apology from May and her government for implicating Putin in the nerve agent attack, saying this “idiocy has gone too far”.

With reporting by © – AFP, 2018

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