March 7 (UPI) — More information has been uncovered about a mysterious substance that’s believed to have poisoned a former Russian spy and his daughter at a British shopping district, officials said.
Speaking after a meeting with the British government’s emergency committee, British Home Secretary Amber Rudd said, “more is now known about the substance” that’s put Sergei Skripal, 66, and Yulia Skripal, 33, into intensive care.
Rudd said more information would be learned about the substance on Wednesday.
The Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism network has taken over the investigation due to the unusual nature of the case, New Scotland Yard said. The incident, though, has not been declared terrorism.
“This is likely to be a lengthy and ongoing process,” Rudd said. “We need to make sure that the police and the other services have the space to continue that investigation.”
Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Wednesday that Moscow hadn’t received “any official requests or proposals of a joint investigation” into the incident between Russia and Britain.
“The situation has not become clear yet but the usual theories have already gained momentum,” Zakharova said, adding that “these fake news stories are aimed at complicating Russia-UK relations, it is impossible to see any other reason behind them.”
“The focus at this time is to establish what has caused these people to become critically ill,” Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, the head of Counter Terrorism Policing, said. “We would like to reassure members of the public that this incident is being taken extremely seriously and we currently do not believe there is any risk to the wider public.”
Two police officers who responded to the incident were treated for minor symptoms, including itchy eyes and wheezing, before they were cleared medically. A third member is still in the hospital.
Tuesday, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson pledged that Britain would respond swiftly if it was found that the Russian government was involved in the poisoning.
Skripal was granted refuge in 2010 during a spy swap involving other Russian prisoners after being arrested in 2004 for spying for British intelligence to provide state secrets.