The Kremlin said on July 9 it was sorry that Dawn Sturgess died in hospital after being exposed to Novichok and added that it was “quite absurd” to link Russia to the poisoning.
British police have launched a murder investigation into the death of Sturgess, who passed away at Salisbury District Hospital on July 8 after being exposed to the military nerve agent. Her partner, Charlie Rowley, 45, was also exposed to Novichok and remains in critical condition.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters: “We continue to be deeply worried by the continuing presence of these poisonous substances on British territory. We consider that it is a danger not only for the British, but for other Europeans.”
“We do not know of anyone mentioning Russia in context of the second incident [nerve agent poisoning in the UK]. We do not know of Russia being mentioned by anyone anyhow or associated with it. We suppose it would be quite absurd anyway.”
Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu described the poisoning as an “outrageous, reckless and barbaric act.”
He said that Sturgess and Rowley, who were exposed to the same nerve agent that nearly killed ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in March, are likely to have handled a contaminated container.
“Our hypothesis is that they must have handled a container we are now seeking,” Basu said. “Our focus and priority at this time is to identify and locate any container that we believe may be the source of the contamination.”
Given the couple’s severe reactions, he said it was likely they were exposed to a high dose of the chemical.
He said police are unable to say whether the incident is linked to the attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal, but added, “This remains our main line of enquiry.”
Britain has held Russia responsible for the March attack on the Skripals, which triggered Western allies to expel scores of Russian diplomats. Russia denies the claims.
UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid said last week that Russia must explain exactly what happened.
He said it is completely unacceptable for Britain’s streets to be “dumping grounds for poison.”
Public Health England warned people not to pick up any “strange items such as needles, syringes, or unusual containers.”