Former Russian Spy Attacked With Nerve Agent Only Government Could Produce, British Officials Say

Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a nerve agent that would require highly specialized training and a laboratory to make, British officials said during a press conference Wednesday.

Investigators did not identify which nerve agent was used on the pair, but the best-known nerve agents are sarin and VX. Most experts say it is almost impossible for nonstate actors to amass the resources necessary to produce nerve agents safely. Officials are now looking into whether any nerve agent remains in the United Kingdom.

The 66-year-old former spy Skripal and his 33-year-old daughter were discovered on a bench in the city of Salisbury in southern England on Sunday. Witnesses said the pair looked drugged, and that the daughter had passed out completely sitting next to her father. They are still in critical condition and remain in the Salisbury hospital.

Break: Sergei Skripal was poisoned by a very rare nerve agent, which only a few laboratories in the world could have produced - security sources confirm.

— Tom Newton Dunn (@tnewtondunn) March 7, 2018

The investigation into the incident is ongoing and will likely drag on for some time, but experts say it is likely that the Russian government was behind the attack. Officials in the U.K. said it appears that the pair was deliberately targeted.

Skripal had already served a 13-year sentence in Russia after being convicted of high treason for giving the names of Russian spies to British intelligence officials. He was pardoned and released in a spy swap between Russia and the United States in 2010. He has been living in the U.K. with his family since going free. His wife, son and brother also died within the past two years.

On Tuesday, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson lashed out at Russia for the event, implying that members of the government think it's likely the Kremlin is behind the attack.

"We don't know exactly what has taken place in Salisbury, but if it's as bad as it looks, it is another crime in the litany of crimes that we can lay at Russia's door," Johnson said while addressing the British Parliament.

If it does turn out that Sergei #Skripal was poisoned by #Russia then UK needs to think beyond usual responses (rhetoric, expulsions) & think what new + *asymmetric* options wd punish Moscow. Russians are ignoring old etiquette of spy game, after all

— Mark Galeotti (@MarkGaleotti) March 5, 2018

Russia has been accused of poisoning or assassinating numerous former spies, oligarchs and members of the political opposition living in exile in the U.K.