Sergei Skripal and Yulia Skripal
Former British spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia continue to recover following a nerve agent attack in Salisbury a little over two weeks ago. They are both in critical condition as is a police officer who helped them and, after a preliminary investigation, they are considered victims of a Russian-made nerve agent called Novichok. British Prime Minister Theresa May has laid blame for the attack firmly at the feet of the Russian state, and is backed in that determination by the U.S., Germany and France.
Russia has denied involvement and feigned outrage at the insult of being fingered in the attack, calling the allegation an “unforgivable breach of diplomatic etiquette”. The Russian state even went so far as to deny that they had ever had a program to create the deadly nerve agent.
Now, however, as Russia continues to deny they had anything to do with the Skripals’ current condition, a Soviet-era scientist has admitted that not only did Russia make Novichok, he was personally involved in its creation.
[Professor Leonid] Rink said he worked under the Soviet Union at a chemical weapons facility where the Novichok military-grade nerve agent was developed. Asked if he was one of Novichok’s creators, he told RIA: “Yes. It was the basis for my doctoral dissertation.”
Rink confessed to having secretly supplied a military-grade poison for cash that was used to murder a Russian banking magnate and his secretary in 1995. In a statement to investigators after his arrest, viewed by Reuters, Rink said he was in possession of poisons created as part of the chemical weapons program which he stored in his garage.
The catch is that while Rink acknowledges the official state line disavowing a Russian program to make the nerve agent is a lie, he also uses the same expertise to claim Russia was unlikely to have perpetrated the poisoning of the Skirpals because they survived the attack.
“It’s hard to believe that the Russians were involved, given that all of those caught up in the incident are still alive,” he said. “Such outrageous incompetence by the alleged (Russian) spies would have simply been laughable and unacceptable.”
Rink noted that the chemical content of Novichok is likely known to other countries and that some scientists who worked on the development of the poison have left Russia and taken the knowledge with them.