Russia is capable of killing thousands with a second chemical weapon attack on the streets of Britain, the Defence Secretary has warned.
He stressed that although the UK hopes to forge a relationship with Russia, tensions were raised after the Government ‘used a nerve agent on the streets of Britain’ two years ago.
Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, 69, and his daughter Yulia were poisoned with the Russian nerve agent Novichok in Salisbury in March 2018.
Both survived, though Mr Skripal, who was jailed in Russia in 2006 for selling secrets to MI6, required a tracheotomy and now breathes through a tube.
Russia is capable of killing thousands with a second chemical weapon attack on the streets of Britain, the Defence Secretary has warned. Pictured: Novichok victim Dawn Sturgess
Ben Wallace admitted Russian behaviour is ‘not within the norms it used to be’ following a spate of activity in British waters in recent weeks. Pictured: Vladimir Putin
The attack later claimed the life of mother-of-three Dawn Sturgess, who is thought to have come into contact with the nerve agent after picking up a perfume bottle in a public park.
Speaking during a visit to Tapa Camp in Estonia, Mr Wallace said: ‘That type of nerve agent, delivered differently, could kill thousands of people.’
It comes as the family of Ms Sturgess moved to take legal action against Russia following her death four months after the Salisbury attack, the Mirror reported.
Lawyers for the victim’s family have lodged proceedings under the European Convention on Human Rights at the High Court in London.
The action, against the Russian Federation, its Ministry of Defence and Military Intelligence Service, gives them the right to sue in the future.
Novichok was used in March 2018 in Salisbury in the attempted assassination of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal (right), 68, and his daughter Yulia (left), 36
Mother-of-three Dawn Sturgess (left) and her partner Charlie Rowley (right) fell ill after handling a perfume bottle containing the poison. Ms Sturgess died in hospital in Salisbury, Wiltshire, on July 8 that year. Mr Rowley was left seriously ill but recovered
The family of Ms Sturgess have moved to take legal action against Russia following her death four months after the Salisbury attack. Pictured: Police at the scene in Muggleton
The details of the case are not yet known, and it cannot be heard until an inquest into Ms Sturgess’ death has been completed.
Last month, the flat where Ms Sturgess was fatally poisoned with the nerve agent was reduced to rubble in a three-week demolition.
What is Novichok? The Russian nerve agent which poisoned five
Novichok was secretly developed by the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold war in the 1970s and 1980s.
Communist scientists developed the poison so it would not be able to be detected by Nato’s chemical detection equipment.
They come in the form of a ultra-fine powder, Novichok is up to eight times more potent than the deadly VX gas.
Victims who are poisoned by the powder suffer muscle spasms, breathing problems and then cardiac arrest. There is a known antidote to the nerve agent.
Atropine can block the poison but doctors find it very tricky to administer the antidote because the dose would have to be so high it could prove fatal for the person.
The mother-of-three collapsed at her partner Charlie Rowley’s home in Amesbury, near Salisbury, on June 30, 2018, after spraying the nerve poison hidden within a perfume bottle on both her wrists.
She was rushed to hospital but died on July 8 that year, her partner became seriously ill but recovered.
In 2018 it was revealed the Government was purchasing the homes of Mr Skripal and Mr Bailey as part of its clean-up operation.
Sergei Skripal’s home was ‘dismantled,’ in January 2019, according to The Guardian.
Work on Mr Rowley’s former home saw its roof taken off and replaced, while internal items were covered and removed from the home as part of a clean-up operation.
The property, on Muggleton Road, is one of two end-of-terrace flats which were knocked down in a three-week process.
Housing provider Stonewater said it had worked ‘very closely’ with Wiltshire Council and consulted with residents on the best way forward for Mr Rowley’s former home.
‘The cleared area will be landscaped, creating additional green space for the local community and we’ll be providing two additional homes at an alternative development nearby to ensure that there is no loss of affordable housing in south Wiltshire,’ a spokeswoman said.
‘Whilst we cannot forget the events that unfolded at this property, we’re pleased that we’ve been able to work together to come to this successful conclusion.
‘We’ll be doing our absolute best to minimise disruption.’