Russian President Vladimir wished Sergei Skripal “good health” following his release from hospital on Friday, adding that the former spy would be dead if he had been targeted with “a military-grade poison”.
“God grant him good health” Putin said, adding “”I think that if, as our British colleagues claim, a weapons-grade poison had been used, that man would be dead on the spot. Combat chemicals are so strong that the person either dies immediately or within seconds, maybe minutes”
RT reports: He also reiterated Russia’s willingness to help the investigation. “We have offered our British partners all the necessary help numerous times, and asked for access to the investigation. There has been no answer so far. Our offer remains on the table,” the Russian leader concluded.
Sergei Skripal, a former Russian-UK double agent who had served a prison term for treason in Russia before moving to the UK, was poisoned in Salisbury on March 4, together with his daughter Yulia. In the immediate aftermath, British Prime Minister Theresa May claimed Russia was “highly likely” responsible because of the alleged origins of the nerve agent supposedly used in the poisoning. The case escalated into a diplomatic scandal, with the UK and its allies expelling dozens of Russian diplomats, and Moscow sending home a similar number in a mirror response.
The British NHS announced on Friday that Sergei Skripal had been discharged from hospital. No details of his condition or location have been revealed. Weeks earlier, Skripal’s daughter Yulia was released in similar secrecy. Neither has been seen since, and their only communication with the outside world has been a statement released by the Metropolitan Police, supposedly on Yulia’s behalf, which among other things refused the help which had been offered by the Russian embassy in London.
‘They can refuse our help, but we must be sure they’re OK’
The Skripals are free to turn down the embassy’s aid, but they should do so in person, Russian Ambassador to the UK Alexander Yakovenko told a press conference on Friday.
“For today, nobody saw their pictures, nobody heard their voice, nobody saw whether they’re alive or not… we should be sure that the person is alive, he is alright or she is alright, and [if they] say, for example, ‘I don’t need your services,’ it’s fine with us,” he said.
Asked by a reporter, Yakovenko said Russia does not consider Skripal a traitor as his sentence had been served.
“He was sentenced, he spent six years in prison, he is cleared, he was freed and he decided to go to Britain. He is a free man, he is a Russian citizen as well as a British citizen, and he can do whatever he wishes. I think he settled his problems with the Russian state.”
The ambassador himself only heard of Skripal after the Salisbury incident, he told another reporter.