Russia has rejected accusations that Moscow was to blame for the poisoning of opposition leader Alexey Navalny, saying it saw no grounds for sanctions to be imposed against it over the case.
The Kremlin denial came on Thursday, a day after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Navalny had been poisoned with a Soviet-style Novichok nerve agent in an attempt to murder him.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow rejected any suggestion that Russia was responsible and warned other countries against jumping to hasty conclusions, Aljazeera reports.
He said there was no reason to discuss measures against Moscow after Merkel said Germany would consult its NATO allies about how to respond to the poisoning.
The Charite hospital in Berlin, where Navalny is being treated, has reported “some improvement” in his condition, but he remains in a medically induced coma and on a ventilator.
In a statement on Wednesday, Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said testing by a special German military laboratory had shown “proof without doubt of a chemical nerve agent from the Novichok group”.
“It is a dismaying event that Alexey Navalny was the victim of an attack with a chemical nerve agent in Russia,” Seibert said.
Merkel later told a news conference: “This is disturbing information about the attempted murder through poisoning against a leading Russian opposition figure.”
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas urged Moscow to investigate the poisoning, and said the Russian ambassador had been summoned to explain the evidence.
“This makes it all the more urgent that those responsible in Russia be identified and held accountable,” Maas told reporters. “We condemn this attack in the strongest terms.”
Novichok – a military-grade nerve agent – was used to poison former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the United Kingdom.