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Russia warns UK against 'reckless' cyber attacks

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Police officers walk past the Russian Embassy in London, March 12, 2018. (Photo by Reuters)

Moscow has warned London to think carefully before carrying out a threat to conduct cyber attacks against Russia over the accusation that Moscow was behind the attempted murder of a former Russian double agent on British soil.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has accused Russia of the recent poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the city of Salisbury allegedly by a nerve agent developed during the Soviet era, giving an ultimatum to Moscow to offer explanations by Tuesday midnight.

May threatened Russia with unspecified consequences, but cyber attacks and economic sanctions are widely believed to be in the UK’s toolkit.

Russia has denied any involvement in the incident.

The Russian diplomatic mission in London described the ultimatum as “absolutely unacceptable” and warned “the British side to once again consider the consequences of such a reckless move.”

UK military personnel work to remove a vehicle as part of an ongoing investigation in connection with a nerve agent attack a week ago, near Middle Winterslow, the UK, on March 12, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

“Not only is Russia groundlessly and provocatively accused of the Salisbury incident, but apparently, plans are being developed in the UK to strike Russia with cyber weapons,” the Russian embassy said. “Statements by a number of MPs, ‘Whitehall sources’ and ‘experts’ regard a possible ‘deployment’ of ‘offensive cyber-capabilities’ cause serious concern.”

The Russian diplomatic mission said any measure would be met with counter-measures.

“Moscow will not respond to London’s ultimatum until it receives samples of the chemical substance,” it said. “Any threat to take punitive measures against Russia will meet with a response.”

London’s deadline has now expired; and Russia has not received any samples of the alleged nerve agent.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has confirmed that London has refused to provide the alleged substances used in the poisoning to Moscow for testing.

Skripal, 66, and his 33-year old daughter, Yulia, who moved to the UK in a spy swap in 2010, were poisoned in Salisbury on March 4. The British government has identified the poison as belonging to a group of nerve agents known as Novichok.

The two remain unconscious in a critical condition.

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