British Soldiers Aid Police in Poisoning Probe

Police sergeant's neighbours express shock at spy nerve agent attack

Britain authorities investigating the poisoning of a former Russian spy, Sergei V. Skripal, and his daughter visited the graves of Skripal's wife and son in the cathedral town of Salisbury, England, on Friday.

Detective Sgt. Nick Bailey, a policeman who also fell ill, is in serious condition, but is "conversing and engaging" with visitors, Rudd added.

Russia's foreign minister said Friday that Moscow was willing to help Britain investigate the nerve-agent poisoning of a former spy - but expressed resentment at suggestions Russian Federation was behind the attack.

Both were in critical condition in a local hospital, poisoned with what authorities said was a rare nerve agent.

Britain's Ministry of Defence and police have deployed about 180 troops - including some with chemical expertise - to remove ambulances and other vehicles involved in the incident and other objects.

Ms Petrova said her friend had got on well with Mr Skripal but had "not been drawn to England" when her father was handed over by Russian Federation in an exchange in Vienna in 2010.

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Mrs Rudd had earlier visited Salisbury and the hospital where DS Bailey is receiving treatment.

Authorities are racing to identify the nerve agent used against the 66-year-old Skripal, who came to Britain in a spy swap in 2010, as politicians warned it showed the hallmarks of an attack by Russian Federation.

A military convoy arrived at the small building close to Salisbury District Hospital and police cordoned off a road.

Sergey Lavrov said "whether it's poisoning of some British subjects, whether it's rumours about interference in the USA election campaign, if assistance really is needed, then we are ready to consider its possibility".

Nearly 200 specialists from the RAF and Marines began removing contaminated materials to be sent for analysis at the nearby Porton Down defence laboratory, seven days after the attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal, the Russian double agent. They said experts had identified the substance, which will help determine the source, but they did not name it publicly.

A spokesman described comments by UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who vowed a "robust response" in the event that state involvement was proved, as "strongly anti-Russian".

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British papers reported that the London government was mulling over retaliatory measures against Russian Federation in case the theory of Moscow's involvement is confirmed.

Much attention was focused Friday on Skripal's red brick home. In 2010, President Dmitry Medvedev pardoned him, after which, in the framework of exchange of spies with the USA, he was sent to the United Kingdom, where he was granted asylum.

Analyst Boulegue said that it would be "extremely difficult" to pinpoint who committed the attack, and that the response could be a lot more complicated if it turned out that internal factions were responsible.

Skripal was a former colonel in Russian military intelligence who was jailed in his country for betraying agents to Britain's MI6 secret service.

The Russian embassy in London told reporters it had not received substantive details about the case, which it said was "rather worrying".

The incident is drawing comparisons to the case of Alexander Litvinenko, a Russian KGB officer-turned-British intelligence agent and a highly public critic of President Vladimir Putin. At the time, the Russian Foreign Ministry dismissed the United Kingdom investigation as politically motivated.

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