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Russia denies blame for nerve agent attack on former spy

Lavrov. Photo: Alexander Shcherbak / TASS via Getty Images

Foreign minister Sergey Lavrov has said Russia "is not to blame" for the nerve agent attack on an ex-Russian spy in the U.K., AP reports. The denial comes as the Kremlin has also asked the U.K. to open an investigation into the spy's daughter, per Reuters, and summoned the British ambassador to Russia, per the AP.

The backdrop: U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May addressed the House of Commons on Monday and said "the [British] government has concluded that it is highly likely that Russia was responsible for the act against Sergei and Yulia Skripal." She gave the Kremlin 36 hours to come up with a credible response. Former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, remain in critical condition after the poisoning.

The latest...

  • Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in Africa on a diplomatic trip, called the poisoning “an egregious act” and said it “appears that it clearly came from Russia," per NYT.
  • More from Tillerson: “I’ve become extremely concerned about Russia ... We spent most of last year investing a lot into attempts to work together, to solve problems, to address differences. And quite frankly, after a year, we didn’t get very far. Instead what we’ve seen is a pivot on their part to be more aggressive.”
  • His comments were notably stronger against Russia than the White House response. Sanders condemned the poisoning but said nothing about Russia's involvement.
Haley Britzky 5 hours ago
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Russia continues pointing fingers after ex-spy poisoning

Russian President Vladimir Putin poses with medalists of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Paralympic Games
Russian President Vladimir Putin poses with medalists of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Paralympic Games. Photo: Yuri Kadobnov / AFP / Getty Images

It's become relatively understood with world leaders that Russia probably poisoned ex-spy Sergei Skripal.

The bigger picture: The U.S. has said so, the E.U. recently voiced support for the U.K. in saying so; the only person who won't say is Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Kremlin has "spread a flurry of theories" to explain the nerve-agent attack, with "one common theme: It was anyone but Russia."

Zachary Basu 15 hours ago
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What to watch for in Egypt's sham election

Sisi billboard
A billboard in Cairo voicing support for Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in the upcoming election. Photo by KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images.

Egyptians will vote March 26-28 in a presidential election that is sure to see incumbent strongman Abdel Fattah el-Sisi handily defeat Mousa Mostafa Mousa — the sole challenger who hasn't been jailed or intimidated into dropping out.

The backdrop: Sisi, the former minister of defense and commander-in-chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces, led a military coup to topple President Mohamed Morsi in 2013. He formally came to power in 2014 after winning 96% of the vote in the presidential election, but has since seen his popularity wane under deteriorating economic conditions and an oppressive human rights record.