As Western countries back UK's findings, British Ambassador Karen Pierce and Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia traded accusations at a UN Security Council meeting held to discuss the Novichok attack investigation and charges against two Russians.

Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia (L) greets British Ambassador to the United Nations Karen Pierce before a Security Council meeting on the situation between Britain and Russia Thursday, April 5, 2018 at United Nations headquarters.
Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia (L) greets British Ambassador to the United Nations Karen Pierce before a Security Council meeting on the situation between Britain and Russia Thursday, April 5, 2018 at United Nations headquarters. (AP)

Britain and Russia again clash over the UK's allegation that two Russian military intelligence officers poisoned an ex-Russian spy and his daughter, with Moscow's UN envoy dismissing Britain's evidence as an invention from "thin air" and London's envoy saying the government is confident of its facts.

British Ambassador Karen Pierce and Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia traded accusations at a UN Security Council meeting on Thursday called by Britain to update members on its investigation and Wednesday's announcement of charges against the two Russians.

Nebenzia said Russia "categorically rejects all unfounded accusations," saying the UK still has "no evidence" of Russian involvement. He accused Britain of using the poisoning to create "anti-Russia hysteria."

Nebenzia said there are many inconsistencies and unresolved issues, including Britain's refusal to agree to a joint investigation and hand over fingerprints of the two accused Russian men. He urged all countries to support Russia's appeal to Britain to begin consultations in the framework of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

TRT World's Frank Ucciardo reports.

Pierce said after the poisonings in March the UK asked Russia to cooperate but received a negative reply. She said Russia asked to join the investigation once it was under way and repeated: "You don't recruit an arsonist to put out a fire — you especially don't do that when the fire is one they caused."

Journalist Dan Ashby reports from Moscow.

Western countries back UK's Salisbury findings

France, Germany, Canada and the United States pledged on Thursday to work to disrupt "the hostile activities of foreign intelligence networks" and called on Russia to disclose its nerve agent programme.

In a joint statement, leaders from the four countries joined Britain in reiterating their "outrage" at the use of a chemical nerve agent, Novichok, in March in the southern England city of Salisbury.

"We have full confidence in the British assessment that the two suspects were officers from the Russian military intelligence service, also known as the GRU, and that this operation was almost certainly approved at a senior government level," the statement said, adding that the countries urged Russia to provide "full disclosure of its Novichok programme."

In addition, they pledged to "continue to disrupt together the hostile activities of foreign intelligence networks on our territories, uphold the prohibition of chemical weapons, protect our citizens and defend ourselves from all forms of malign state activity directed against us and our societies."

Source: TRTWorld and agencies