- Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images
- Investigators reportedly suspect that nerve agent was hidden in the suitcase of ex-spy Sergei Skripal’s daughter, Yulia.
- It means the would-be assassins who tried to target the former double agent may never have left Russia.
- The chemical weapons attack has caused relations between the US and Russia to plummet.
Investigators reportedly have another theory for the location of the nerve agent that left former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia hospitalised – it may have been hidden in her suitcase.
The Daily Telegraph is reporting that British intelligence agencies now believe that the poison may have been somehow hidden in the 33-year-old luggage while she was still in Russia, and then came into contact with the father and daughter once they were together in Salisbury, England.
This means the would-be assassins may never have needed to actually come to Britain to carry out the attack, the paper reported, citing unnamed “senior sources.”
Sergei lives in Salisbury, while Yulia lives in Moscow, Russia, where she works for PepsiCo, according to her Facebook profile. She arrived in England on March 3. The pair were found unconscious on a bench in the town centre in the afternoon of March 4, and they remain critically ill in hospital.
The UK government has yet to announce how it believes the pair came into contact with the deadly chemical. Another theory that has circulated in recent days is that the substance was smeared on the handle of Sergei Skripal’s car, poisoning him when he touched it.
A Zizzi restaurant and the Mill pub in Salisbury that the Skripals visited on the day they collapsed have been cordoned off by investigators, as has a ticket dispenser at a Sainsbury’s supermarket car park.
Britain has accused the Russian government being behind the attack, pointing to the fact it was a Novichok nerve agent used – a family of poisons developed by Russia during the Cold War. Russia has repeatedly and angrily denied any involvement.
On Thursday, Britain’s allies rallied round it, issuing a joint statement with the US, France, and Germany blaming Russia for the attack. Britain has expelled 23 Russian diplomats as relations between the two country sink to what may be their lowest since the end of the Cold War, and Russia has vowed to retaliate.
Also on Thursday, British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said Russia should “shut up” and “go away.”
Russia’s Ministry of Defence responded by calling him a “vulgar old harpy” and insulting his intelligence.