Putin: If a nerve agent had been used on the Skripals, they’d be dead already

Image: Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin
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Once again, Vladimir Putin tried to debunk Britain’s claims that Russia used a Soviet Union-era, weapons-grade nerve agent to poison Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

Speaking at a press conference with German chancellor Angela Merkel in Sochi, the Russian president responded to today’s news that ex-spy Skripal had been discharged from the hospital and moved to a secure location.

“We wish him a good recovery. Firstly, I believe that, if, as our Brit colleagues claim, that it was really had been a nerve agent, then he would have died immediately,” said Putin at the press conference. “A weapons-grade nerve agent is so strong that a person dies immediately or within a few minutes. Thank god, he is getting better.”

On March 4, Skripal and his daughter were found slumped on a bench in the center of the sleepy, British city of Salisbury. Shortly thereafter, the British government confirmed that the poison used in the attack was the military-grade nerve agent Novichok, developed by Russia. It was delivered in an area where hundreds of people could have been exposed.

Russia said it considered the insinuation of its involvement in Skripal’s poisoning as a “provocation.” A tit-for-tat expulsion of Russian diplomats from Western countries and Western diplomats from Russia ensued.

At one point, it looked like the Skripals would not survive the attack. However, in April, Yulia Skripal was released from hospital and taken to a secure location, where her father has now joined her. At the time, the Russian embassy in the UK demanded to meet with her and questioned if she was being held against her will by the British government.