MOSCOW — The Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, said on Tuesday that his country had nothing to do with the poisoning by nerve agent of a former Russian spy-turned-double agent, dismissing Britain’s allegation that Moscow was to blame as “nonsense.”
His remarks came the day after Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain said it was “highly likely” that Russia was behind the poisoning of the former spy, Sergei V. Skripal, and his daughter, Yulia, this month. Britain has given Russia until the end of Tuesday to explain itself, but Moscow has consistently insisted it had nothing to do with the attack in the cathedral city of Salisbury, England, where the pair were found incoherent on a park bench.
The dispute between the two countries has sharply worsened tensions between Russia and the West. Moscow is facing increasing criticism over its role in the Syrian conflict, as well as years of sanctions over its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
The latest row comes at a particularly difficult time, with Russia in the spotlight for its role in the United States presidential election, and just months before Russia hosts the soccer World Cup, a major event the country had hoped would paint it in a positive light.
On Tuesday, Mr. Lavrov dismissed the allegations that his country was responsible for the poisoning and argued that Britain had not done enough to provide Russia with access to the nerve agent for investigation.
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