Former Russian spy poisoned by nerve agent on door of home in England: police

LONDON, March 28 (Reuters) - Russian former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a nerve toxin that had been left on the front door of their home in England, British counter-terrorism police said on Wednesday.

After the first known offensive use of a chemical weapon on European soil since World War Two, Britain blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin for the attempted assassination and the West has expelled around 130 Russian diplomats.

Russia has denied any involvement in the attack and has said it suspects the British secret services of using the Novichok nerve agent, which was developed by the Soviet military, to frame Russia and stoke anti-Russian hysteria.

UK investigates nerve agent attack on former double agent Sergei Skripal

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UK investigates nerve agent attack on former double agent Sergei Skripal
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UK investigates nerve agent attack on former double agent Sergei Skripal
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - MARCH 08: Forensic police officers wearing hazmat suits prepare to examine a vehicle believed to belong to Sergei Skripal on March 8, 2018 in Salisbury, England. Police investigations continue into the use of a nerve agent to poison Sergei Skripal, who was found ill in a Salisbury park with his daughter on March 4. Both Sergei Skripal and his daughter remain in a critical condition in hospital. Sergei Skripal was granted refuge in the UK following a spy swap between the US and Russia in 2010. (Photo by Rufus Cox/Getty Images)
A picture shows the tent over the bench where a man and a woman were found in critical condition sparking a major incident on March 4 at The Maltings shopping centre in Salisbury, southern England, on March 8, 2018 after the tent became detached. British detectives on March 8 scrambled to find the source of the nerve agent used in the 'brazen and reckless' attempted murder of a Russian former double-agent and his daughter. Sergei Skripal, 66, who moved to Britain in a 2010 spy swap, is unconscious in a critical but stable condition in hospital along with his daughter Yulia after they collapsed on a bench outside a shopping centre on Sunday. / AFP PHOTO / Ben STANSALL (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of the emergency services in green biohazard encapsulated suits afix the tent over the bench where a man and a woman were found on March 4 in critical condition at The Maltings shopping centre in Salisbury, southern England, on March 8, 2018 after the tent became detached. British detectives on March 8 scrambled to find the source of the nerve agent used in the 'brazen and reckless' attempted murder of a Russian former double-agent and his daughter. Sergei Skripal, 66, who moved to Britain in a 2010 spy swap, is unconscious in a critical but stable condition in hospital along with his daughter Yulia after they collapsed on a bench outside a shopping centre on Sunday. / AFP PHOTO / Ben STANSALL (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture shows the tent over the bench where a man and a woman were found in critical condition sparking a major incident on March 4 at The Maltings shopping centre in Salisbury, southern England, on March 8, 2018 after the tent became detached. British detectives on March 8 scrambled to find the source of the nerve agent used in the 'brazen and reckless' attempted murder of a Russian former double-agent and his daughter. Sergei Skripal, 66, who moved to Britain in a 2010 spy swap, is unconscious in a critical but stable condition in hospital along with his daughter Yulia after they collapsed on a bench outside a shopping centre on Sunday. / AFP PHOTO / Ben STANSALL (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Members of the emergency services in green biohazard encapsulated suits work to afix the tent over the bench where a man and a woman were found on March 4 in critical condition at The Maltings shopping centre in Salisbury, southern England, on March 8, 2018 after the tent became detached. British detectives on March 8 scrambled to find the source of the nerve agent used in the 'brazen and reckless' attempted murder of a Russian former double-agent and his daughter. Sergei Skripal, 66, who moved to Britain in a 2010 spy swap, is unconscious in a critical but stable condition in hospital along with his daughter Yulia after they collapsed on a bench outside a shopping centre on Sunday. / AFP PHOTO / Ben STANSALL (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Members of the fire brigade in green biohazard encapsulated suits work to re-attach the tent over the bench where a man and a woman were found in critical condition sparking a major incident on March 4 at The Maltings shopping centre in Salisbury, southern England, on March 8, 2018 after the tent became detached. British detectives on March 8 scrambled to find the source of the nerve agent used in the 'brazen and reckless' attempted murder of a Russian former double-agent and his daughter. Sergei Skripal, 66, who moved to Britain in a 2010 spy swap, is unconscious in a critical but stable condition in hospital along with his daughter Yulia after they collapsed on a bench outside a shopping centre on Sunday. / AFP PHOTO / Ben STANSALL (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of the fire brigade get suited in green biohazard encapsulated suits to work to re-attach the tent over the bench where a man and a woman were found in critical condition sparking a major incident on March 4 at The Maltings shopping centre in Salisbury, southern England, on March 8, 2018 after the tent became detached. British detectives on March 8 scrambled to find the source of the nerve agent used in the 'brazen and reckless' attempted murder of a Russian former double-agent and his daughter. Sergei Skripal, 66, who moved to Britain in a 2010 spy swap, is unconscious in a critical but stable condition in hospital along with his daughter Yulia after they collapsed on a bench outside a shopping centre on Sunday. / AFP PHOTO / Ben STANSALL (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of the fire brigade are helped out of their green biohazard encapsulated suits by colleagues in white protective coveralls after an operation to re-attach the tent over the bench where a man and a woman were found in critical condition sparking a major incident on March 4 at The Maltings shopping centre in Salisbury, southern England, on March 8, 2018 after the tent became detached. British detectives on March 8 scrambled to find the source of the nerve agent used in the 'brazen and reckless' attempted murder of a Russian former double-agent and his daughter. Sergei Skripal, 66, who moved to Britain in a 2010 spy swap, is unconscious in a critical but stable condition in hospital along with his daughter Yulia after they collapsed on a bench outside a shopping centre on Sunday. / AFP PHOTO / Ben STANSALL (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - MARCH 08: Police officers search the home of Sergei Skripal in Salisbury who was found critically ill on a bench with his daughter on March 4 and were taken to hospital sparking a major incident on March 8, 2018 in Wiltshire, England. Sergei Skripal who was granted refuge in the UK following a 'spy swap' between the US and Russia in 2010 and his daughter remain critically ill after being attacked with a nerve agent. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - MARCH 08: Police officers search the home of Sergei Skripal in Salisbury who was found critically ill on a bench with his daughter on March 4 and were taken to hospital sparking a major incident on March 8, 2018 in Wiltshire, England. Sergei Skripal who was granted refuge in the UK following a 'spy swap' between the US and Russia in 2010 and his daughter remain critically ill after being attacked with a nerve agent. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
A police officer guards a cordon on a residential street in Salisbury, southern England, on March 8, 2018 where police forensic tents are errected and police continue to work in connection with the major incident which started at The Maltings shopping centre in Salisbury on March 4. British detectives on March 8 scrambled to find the source of the nerve agent used in the 'brazen and reckless' attempted murder of a Russian former double-agent and his daughter. Sergei Skripal, 66, who moved to Britain in a 2010 spy swap, is unconscious in a critical but stable condition in hospital along with his daughter Yulia after they collapsed on a bench outside a shopping centre on Sunday. / AFP PHOTO / Ben STANSALL (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - MARCH 08: Forensic police officers wearing hazmat suits examine a vehicle believed to belong to Sergei Skripal on March 8, 2018 in Salisbury, England. Police investigations continue into the use of a nerve agent to poison Sergei Skripal, who was found ill in a Salisbury park with his daughter on March 4. Both Sergei Skripal and his daughter remain in critical condition in hospital. Sergei Skripal was granted refuge in the UK following a spy swap between the US and Russia in 2010. (Photo by Rufus Cox/Getty Images)
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - MARCH 08: Police stand guard at the home of Sergei Skripal on March 8, 2018 in Salisbury, England. Police investigations continue into the use of a nerve agent to poison Sergei Skripal, who was found ill in a Salisbury park with his daughter on March 4. Both Sergei Skripal and his daughter remain in a critical condition in hospital. Sergei Skripal was granted refuge in the UK following a spy swap between the US and Russia in 2010. (Photo by Rufus Cox/Getty Images)
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - MARCH 08: Police stand guard at Zizzil restaurant reported to have been visited by Sergei Skripal before he colapsed due to poisoning on March 8, 2018 in Salisbury, England. Police investigations continue into the use of a nerve agent to poison Sergei Skripal, who was found ill in a Salisbury park with his daughter on March 4. Both Sergei Skripal and his daughter remain in a critical condition in hospital. Sergei Skripal was granted refuge in the UK following a spy swap between the US and Russia in 2010. (Photo by Rufus Cox/Getty Images)
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - MARCH 08: Forensic police officers wearing hazmat suits examine a vehicle believed to belong to Sergei Skripal on March 8, 2018 in Salisbury, England. Police investigations continue into the use of a nerve agent to poison Sergei Skripal, who was found ill in a Salisbury park with his daughter on March 4. Both Sergei Skripal and his daughter remain in critical condition in hospital. Sergei Skripal was granted refuge in the UK following a spy swap between the US and Russia in 2010. (Photo by Rufus Cox/Getty Images)
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - MARCH 08: Forensic police officers wearing hazmat suits examine a vehicle believed to belong to Sergei Skripal on March 8, 2018 in Salisbury, England. Police investigations continue into the use of a nerve agent to poison Sergei Skripal, who was found ill in a Salisbury park with his daughter on March 4. Both Sergei Skripal and his daughter remain in critical condition in hospital. Sergei Skripal was granted refuge in the UK following a spy swap between the US and Russia in 2010. (Photo by Rufus Cox/Getty Images)
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - MARCH 08: Forensic police officers wearing hazmat suits prepare to examine a vehicle believed to belong to Sergei Skripal on March 8, 2018 in Salisbury, England. Police investigations continue into the use of a nerve agent to poison Sergei Skripal, who was found ill in a Salisbury park with his daughter on March 4. Both Sergei Skripal and his daughter remain in critical condition in hospital. Sergei Skripal was granted refuge in the UK following a spy swap between the US and Russia in 2010. (Photo by Rufus Cox/Getty Images)
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - MARCH 08: Forensic police officers wearing hazmat suits examine a vehicle believed to belong to Sergei Skripal on March 8, 2018 in Salisbury, England. Police investigations continue into the use of a nerve agent to poison Sergei Skripal, who was found ill in a Salisbury park with his daughter on March 4. Both Sergei Skripal and his daughter remain in critical condition in hospital. Sergei Skripal was granted refuge in the UK following a spy swap between the US and Russia in 2010. (Photo by Rufus Cox/Getty Images)
Pedestrians walk past a cordoned-off branch of the Italian chain restaurant Zizzi close to The Maltings shopping centre in Salisbury, southern England, on March 8, 2018 which was closed in connection to the ongoing major incident sparked after a man and a woman were found critically ill on a bench at the shopping centre on March 4 after being apparently poisoned with what was later identified as a nerve agent sparking a major incident. Britain vowed on March 8 to act 'without hesitation' if a state is found responsible for a nerve agent attack on a former Russian double agent, as police said 21 people in total had received medical treatment following the incident. Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia remain unconscious in a critical but stable condition following the attack on Sunday in the sleepy south-western English city of Salisbury. / AFP PHOTO / Adrian DENNIS (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - MARCH 09: Police officers search ahead of the visit by Home Secretary Amber Rudd to the scene at the Maltings shopping centre in where former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter were found critically ill after exposure to a nerve agent on March 4 and were taken to hospital sparking a major incident, in Salisbury on March 9, 2018 in Wiltshire, England. Sergei Skripal who was granted refuge in the UK following a 'spy swap' between the US and Russia in 2010 and his daughter remain critically ill after being exposed to an 'unknown substance'. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - MARCH 09: A police officer walks past a forensics tent over the grave of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal's wife Lyudmila in London Road cemetery, on March 9, 2018 in Salisbury, England. Sergei Skripal who was granted refuge in the UK following a 'spy swap' between the US and Russia in 2010 and his daughter remain critically ill after being exposed to an 'unknown substance'. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - MARCH 09: A general view of a forensics tent over the grave of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal's son Alexander in London Road cemetery, on March 9, 2018 in Salisbury, England. Sergei Skripal who was granted refuge in the UK following a 'spy swap' between the US and Russia in 2010 and his daughter remain critically ill after being exposed to an 'unknown substance'. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - MARCH 10: Police officers dress in protective suits and breathing apparatus in London Road cemetery as they continue investigations into the poisoning of Sergei Skripal who was found critically ill on a bench in Salisbury with his daughter sparking a major incident on March 10, 2018 in Salisbury, England. Sergei Skripal who was granted refuge in the UK following a 'spy swap' between the US and Russia in 2010 and his daughter remain critically ill after being attacked with a nerve agent. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - MARCH 10: Police officers dress in protective suits and breathing apparatus in London Road cemetery as they continue investigations into the poisoning of Sergei Skripal who was found critically ill on a bench in Salisbury with his daughter sparking a major incident on March 10, 2018 in Salisbury, England. Sergei Skripal who was granted refuge in the UK following a 'spy swap' between the US and Russia in 2010 and his daughter remain critically ill after being attacked with a nerve agent. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
British police officers stand on duty at a cordon leading to the home of Russian spy Sergei Skripal, in Salisbury, southern England, on March 10, 2018. British soldiers were deployed on Friday to help a counter-terrorism investigation into a nerve agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, as speculation mounted over how London could retaliate if the Russian state is found to be responsible. Skripal and his daughter Yulia remain unconscious in a critical but stable condition following the March 4 attack in the sleepy south-western English city of Salisbury. / AFP PHOTO / DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - MARCH 10: A police officer stands at a cordon at the scene connected to the Sergei Skripal nerve agent attack on March 10, 2018 in Salisbury, England. Sergei Skripal who was granted refuge in the UK following a 'spy swap' between the US and Russia in 2010 and his daughter remain critically ill after being attacked with a nerve agent. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
Police tape surrounds a forensics tent covering the memorial stone to Alexander Skripal, inside the entrance of the London Road Cemetery in Salisbury, southern England, on March 10, 2018, where the wife and son of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal are buried. British soldiers were deployed on Friday to help a counter-terrorism investigation into a nerve agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, as speculation mounted over how London could retaliate if the Russian state is found to be responsible. Skripal and his daughter Yulia remain unconscious in a critical but stable condition following the March 4 attack in the sleepy south-western English city of Salisbury. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - A member of the emergency services wearing a protective suit works at the London Road Cemetery in Salisbury, southern England, on March 10, 2018, where the wife and son of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal are buried. British soldiers were deployed on Friday to help a counter-terrorism investigation into a nerve agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, as speculation mounted over how London could retaliate if the Russian state is found to be responsible. Skripal and his daughter Yulia remain unconscious in a critical but stable condition following the March 4 attack in the sleepy south-western English city of Salisbury. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
Personnel in protective coveralls and breathing equiptment work at the Salisbury District Hospital in Salisbury, southern England, on March 10, 2018, in connection with the major incident sparked after a man and a woman were apparently poisoned in a nerve agent attack. British soldiers were deployed on March 9 to help a counter-terrorism investigation into a nerve agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, as speculation mounted over how London could retaliate if the Russian state is found to be responsible. Skripal and his daughter Yulia remain unconscious in a critical but stable condition following the March 4 attack in the sleepy south-western English city of Salisbury. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
Personnel in protective coveralls and breathing equiptment cover an ambulance with a tarpaulin at the Salisbury District Hospital in Salisbury, southern England, on March 10, 2018, in connection with the major incident sparked after a man and a woman were apparently poisoned in a nerve agent attack. British soldiers were deployed on March 9 to help a counter-terrorism investigation into a nerve agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, as speculation mounted over how London could retaliate if the Russian state is found to be responsible. Skripal and his daughter Yulia remain unconscious in a critical but stable condition following the March 4 attack in the sleepy south-western English city of Salisbury. The Counter Terrorism Policing Network requested assistance from the military to remove a number of vehicles and objects from Salisbury. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
Military personnel in protective coveralls stand by as personnel cover ambulances in tarpaulins at the Salisbury District Hospital in Salisbury, southern England, on March 10, 2018, in connection with the major incident sparked after a man and a woman were apparently poisoned in a nerve agent attack. British soldiers were deployed on March 9 to help a counter-terrorism investigation into a nerve agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, as speculation mounted over how London could retaliate if the Russian state is found to be responsible. Skripal and his daughter Yulia remain unconscious in a critical but stable condition following the March 4 attack in the sleepy south-western English city of Salisbury. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of the emergency services in protective coveralls and breathing equiptment cover ambulances with tarpaulins at the Salisbury District Hospital in Salisbury, southern England, on March 10, 2018, in connection with the major incident sparked after a man and a woman were apparently poisoned in a nerve agent attack. British soldiers were deployed on March 9 to help a counter-terrorism investigation into a nerve agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, as speculation mounted over how London could retaliate if the Russian state is found to be responsible. Skripal and his daughter Yulia remain unconscious in a critical but stable condition following the March 4 attack in the sleepy south-western English city of Salisbury. / AFP PHOTO / DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
Personnel in protective coveralls and breathing equiptment cover an ambulance with a tarpaulin at the Salisbury District Hospital in Salisbury, southern England, on March 10, 2018, in connection with the major incident sparked after a man and a woman were apparently poisoned in a nerve agent attack. British soldiers were deployed on March 9 to help a counter-terrorism investigation into a nerve agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, as speculation mounted over how London could retaliate if the Russian state is found to be responsible. Skripal and his daughter Yulia remain unconscious in a critical but stable condition following the March 4 attack in the sleepy south-western English city of Salisbury. The Counter Terrorism Policing Network requested assistance from the military to remove a number of vehicles and objects from Salisbury. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
Military personnel in protective coveralls stand by as personnel cover ambulances in tarpaulins at the Salisbury District Hospital in Salisbury, southern England, on March 10, 2018, in connection with the major incident sparked after a man and a woman were apparently poisoned in a nerve agent attack. British soldiers were deployed on March 9 to help a counter-terrorism investigation into a nerve agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, as speculation mounted over how London could retaliate if the Russian state is found to be responsible. Skripal and his daughter Yulia remain unconscious in a critical but stable condition following the March 4 attack in the sleepy south-western English city of Salisbury. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of the emergency services in protective coveralls and breathing equiptment cover ambulances with tarpaulins and prepare to load them onto military low-loader vehicles at the Salisbury District Hospital in Salisbury, southern England, on March 10, 2018, in connection with the major incident sparked after a man and a woman were apparently poisoned in a nerve agent attack. British soldiers were deployed on March 9 to help a counter-terrorism investigation into a nerve agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, as speculation mounted over how London could retaliate if the Russian state is found to be responsible. Skripal and his daughter Yulia remain unconscious in a critical but stable condition following the March 4 attack in the sleepy south-western English city of Salisbury. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of the emergency services in protective coveralls and breathing equiptment load a covered ambulance onto a military low-loader vehicle at the Salisbury District Hospital in Salisbury, southern England, on March 10, 2018, in connection with the major incident sparked after a man and a woman were apparently poisoned in a nerve agent attack. British soldiers were deployed on March 9 to help a counter-terrorism investigation into a nerve agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, as speculation mounted over how London could retaliate if the Russian state is found to be responsible. Skripal and his daughter Yulia remain unconscious in a critical but stable condition following the March 4 attack in the sleepy south-western English city of Salisbury. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - MARCH 10: Military personnel wearing protective suits inspect a bin after an ambulance is removed from Salisbury ambulance station as they continue investigations into the poisoning of Sergei Skripal on March 10, 2018 in Salisbury, England. Sergei Skripal who was granted refuge in the UK following a 'spy swap' between the US and Russia in 2010 and his daughter remain critically ill after being attacked with a nerve agent. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - MARCH 10: Military personnel wearing protective suits cover two ambulances with tarpaulin as they prepare to remove them from Salisbury ambulance station as they continue investigations into the poisoning of Sergei Skripal on March 10, 2018 in Salisbury, England. Sergei Skripal who was granted refuge in the UK following a 'spy swap' between the US and Russia in 2010 and his daughter remain critically ill after being attacked with a nerve agent. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
Personnel in protective coveralls and breathing equiptment cover an ambulance with a tarpaulin to be taken away by military personnel at the Salisbury District Hospital in Salisbury, southern England, on March 10, 2018, in connection with the major incident sparked after a man and a woman were apparently poisoned in a nerve agent attack. British soldiers were deployed on March 9 to help a counter-terrorism investigation into a nerve agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, as speculation mounted over how London could retaliate if the Russian state is found to be responsible. Skripal and his daughter Yulia remain unconscious in a critical but stable condition following the March 4 attack in the sleepy south-western English city of Salisbury. The Counter Terrorism Policing Network requested assistance from the military to remove a number of vehicles and objects from Salisbury. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - MARCH 10: Military personnel wearing protective suits cover a second ambulance after removing another from Salisbury ambulance station as they continue investigations into the poisoning of Sergei Skripal on March 10, 2018 in Salisbury, England. Sergei Skripal who was granted refuge in the UK following a 'spy swap' between the US and Russia in 2010 and his daughter remain critically ill after being attacked with a nerve agent. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
Personnel in protective coveralls and breathing equiptment work at the Salisbury District Hospital in Salisbury, southern England, on March 10, 2018, in connection with the major incident sparked after a man and a woman were apparently poisoned in a nerve agent attack. British soldiers were deployed on March 9 to help a counter-terrorism investigation into a nerve agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, as speculation mounted over how London could retaliate if the Russian state is found to be responsible. Skripal and his daughter Yulia remain unconscious in a critical but stable condition following the March 4 attack in the sleepy south-western English city of Salisbury. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - MARCH 10: Soldiers wearing hazmat suits seal a waste container at an ambulance depot on March 10, 2018 in Salisbury, England. The ambulance is believed to have carried former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal to hospital, after he and his daughter Yulia fell ill in Salisbury city centre on March 4. Both Sergei Skripal and his daughter remain in a critical condition due to the effects of an undisclosed nerve agent. The military have been called in to assist police in their investigation and containment of the major incident. Sergei Skripal was granted refuge in the UK following a spy swap between the US and Russia in 2010. (Photo by Rufus Cox/Getty Images)
Police officers stand in front of a cordon in front of a branch of the chain Italian restaurant Zizzi in Salisbury, southern England, on March 11, 2018, as investigations continue in connection with the major incident sparked after a man and a woman were apparently poisoned in a nerve agent attack a week ago. British police hunting the perpetrators behind a nerve agent attack on a Russian former spy are examining more than 200 pieces of evidence, London said after a meeting of the UK's national emergencies committee. Counter-terror police had identified more than 240 witnesses, the Home Office interior ministry said after a meeting of the committee known as COBRA, chaired by Home Secretary Amber Rudd. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
A pedestrian passes in front of a police cordon in front of a branch of the chain Italian restaurant Zizzi in Salisbury, southern England, on March 11, 2018, as investigations continue in connection with the major incident sparked after a man and a woman were apparently poisoned in a nerve agent attack a week ago. British police hunting the perpetrators behind a nerve agent attack on a Russian former spy are examining more than 200 pieces of evidence, London said after a meeting of the UK's national emergencies committee. Counter-terror police had identified more than 240 witnesses, the Home Office interior ministry said after a meeting of the committee known as COBRA, chaired by Home Secretary Amber Rudd. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - MARCH 11: Police officers stand outside Zizzi restaurant as it remains closed as investigations continue into the poisoning of Sergei Skripal on March 11, 2018 in Salisbury, England. Sergei Skripal who was granted refuge in the UK following a 'spy swap' between the US and Russia in 2010 and his daughter remain critically ill after being attacked with a nerve agent. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - MARCH 11: A police officer stands outside The Mill as it remains closed as investigations continue into the poisoning of Sergei Skripal on March 11, 2018 in Salisbury, England. Sergei Skripal who was granted refuge in the UK following a 'spy swap' between the US and Russia in 2010 and his daughter remain critically ill after being attacked with a nerve agent. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
A police officer stands at a police cordon at The Maltings shopping centre in Salisbury, southern England, on March 11, 2018, as investigations continue in connection with the major incident sparked after a man and a woman were apparently poisoned in a nerve agent attack a week ago. British police hunting the perpetrators behind a nerve agent attack on a Russian former spy are examining more than 200 pieces of evidence, London said after a meeting of the UK's national emergencies committee. Counter-terror police had identified more than 240 witnesses, the Home Office interior ministry said after a meeting of the committee known as COBRA, chaired by Home Secretary Amber Rudd. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
A police officer stands in front of The Mill pub in Salisbury, southern England, on March 11, 2018, as investigations continue in connection with the major incident sparked after a man and a woman were apparently poisoned in a nerve agent attack a week ago. Traces of a nerve agent used in the suspected attempted murder of a Russian ex-spy have been found in a pub and a restaurant he visited, England's chief medical officer said on March 11. Sally Davies said up to 500 people who had visited The Mill pub and the Zizzi restaurant in Salisbury, southwest England, needed to wash their clothes and belongings as a precaution. The March 4 attack on Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia is being treated by detectives as attempted murder. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
Military personnel, some in protective coveralls, carry equipment in a staging area at a cordon set up behind a police station in Salisbury, southern England, on March 11, 2018, as investigations and operations continue in connection with the major incident sparked after a man and a woman were apparently poisoned in a nerve agent attack a week ago. British police hunting the perpetrators behind a nerve agent attack on a Russian former spy are examining more than 200 pieces of evidence, London said after a meeting of the UK's national emergencies committee. Counter-terror police had identified more than 240 witnesses, the Home Office interior ministry said after a meeting of the committee known as COBRA, chaired by Home Secretary Amber Rudd. Military personnel were assisting police for a third day after being called in to remove vehicles and items. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
Military personnel, some in protective coveralls, talk at a staging area at a cordon set up behind a police station in Salisbury, southern England, on March 11, 2018, as investigations and operations continue in connection with the major incident sparked after a man and a woman were apparently poisoned in a nerve agent attack a week ago. British police hunting the perpetrators behind a nerve agent attack on a Russian former spy are examining more than 200 pieces of evidence, London said after a meeting of the UK's national emergencies committee. Counter-terror police had identified more than 240 witnesses, the Home Office interior ministry said after a meeting of the committee known as COBRA, chaired by Home Secretary Amber Rudd. Military personnel were assisting police for a third day after being called in to remove vehicles and items. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
A military fork-lift vehicle is driven into an area cordoned off behind a police station in Salisbury, southern England, on March 11, 2018, as investigations and operations continue in connection with the major incident sparked after a man and a woman were apparently poisoned in a nerve agent attack a week ago. British police hunting the perpetrators behind a nerve agent attack on a Russian former spy are examining more than 200 pieces of evidence, London said after a meeting of the UK's national emergencies committee. Counter-terror police had identified more than 240 witnesses, the Home Office interior ministry said after a meeting of the committee known as COBRA, chaired by Home Secretary Amber Rudd. Military personnel were assisting police for a third day after being called in to remove vehicles and items. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
A military low-loader vehicle is driven into an area cordoned off behind a police station in Salisbury, southern England, on March 11, 2018, as investigations and operations continue in connection with the major incident sparked after a man and a woman were apparently poisoned in a nerve agent attack a week ago. British police hunting the perpetrators behind a nerve agent attack on a Russian former spy are examining more than 200 pieces of evidence, London said after a meeting of the UK's national emergencies committee. Counter-terror police had identified more than 240 witnesses, the Home Office interior ministry said after a meeting of the committee known as COBRA, chaired by Home Secretary Amber Rudd. Military personnel were assisting police for a third day after being called in to remove vehicles and items. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
Military personnel wearing protective coveralls look at a map while others load a car onto a military vehicle in a cordoned off area behind a police station in Salisbury, southern England, on March 11, 2018, as investigations and operations continue in connection with the major incident sparked after a man and a woman were apparently poisoned in a nerve agent attack a week ago. British police hunting the perpetrators behind a nerve agent attack on a Russian former spy are examining more than 200 pieces of evidence, London said after a meeting of the UK's national emergencies committee. Counter-terror police had identified more than 240 witnesses, the Home Office interior ministry said after a meeting of the committee known as COBRA, chaired by Home Secretary Amber Rudd. Military personnel were assisting police for a third day after being called in to remove vehicles and items. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
Military personnel wearing protective coveralls look at a map while others load a car onto a military vehicle in a cordoned off area behind a police station in Salisbury, southern England, on March 11, 2018, as investigations and operations continue in connection with the major incident sparked after a man and a woman were apparently poisoned in a nerve agent attack a week ago. British police hunting the perpetrators behind a nerve agent attack on a Russian former spy are examining more than 200 pieces of evidence, London said after a meeting of the UK's national emergencies committee. Counter-terror police had identified more than 240 witnesses, the Home Office interior ministry said after a meeting of the committee known as COBRA, chaired by Home Secretary Amber Rudd. Military personnel were assisting police for a third day after being called in to remove vehicles and items. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
Military personnel wearing protective coveralls use a military fork-lift to lift a car onto a low-loader military vehicle in a cordoned off area behind a police station in Salisbury, southern England, on March 11, 2018, as investigations and operations continue in connection with the major incident sparked after a man and a woman were apparently poisoned in a nerve agent attack a week ago. British police hunting the perpetrators behind a nerve agent attack on a Russian former spy are examining more than 200 pieces of evidence, London said after a meeting of the UK's national emergencies committee. Counter-terror police had identified more than 240 witnesses, the Home Office interior ministry said after a meeting of the committee known as COBRA, chaired by Home Secretary Amber Rudd. Military personnel were assisting police for a third day after being called in to remove vehicles and items. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
Military personnel wearing protective coveralls use a military fork-lift to lift a car onto a low-loader military vehicle in a cordoned off area behind a police station in Salisbury, southern England, on March 11, 2018, as investigations and operations continue in connection with the major incident sparked after a man and a woman were apparently poisoned in a nerve agent attack a week ago. British police hunting the perpetrators behind a nerve agent attack on a Russian former spy are examining more than 200 pieces of evidence, London said after a meeting of the UK's national emergencies committee. Counter-terror police had identified more than 240 witnesses, the Home Office interior ministry said after a meeting of the committee known as COBRA, chaired by Home Secretary Amber Rudd. Military personnel were assisting police for a third day after being called in to remove vehicles and items. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
Military personnel in protective coveralls handle equipment during an operation in a cordoned off area behind a police station in Salisbury, southern England, on March 11, 2018, as investigations and operations continue in connection with the major incident sparked after a man and a woman were apparently poisoned in a nerve agent attack a week ago. British police hunting the perpetrators behind a nerve agent attack on a Russian former spy are examining more than 200 pieces of evidence, London said after a meeting of the UK's national emergencies committee. Counter-terror police had identified more than 240 witnesses, the Home Office interior ministry said after a meeting of the committee known as COBRA, chaired by Home Secretary Amber Rudd. Military personnel were assisting police for a third day after being called in to remove vehicles and items. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
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"We believe the Skripals first came into contact with the nerve agent from their front door," said Dean Haydon, Britain's' senior national coordinator for counter-terrorism policing.

"Specialists have identified the highest concentration of the nerve agent, to-date, as being on the front door of the address," Scotland Yard said in a statement.

Skripal and his 33-year-old daughter, Yulia, have been in a critical condition since being found unconscious on a public bench in the English city of Salisbury on March 4. A British judge has said they may have suffered permanent brain damage.

The attempted murder of Skripal, a 66-year-old former colonel in Russian military intelligence who betrayed dozens of Russian agents to Britain's MI6 spy service, has plunged Moscow's relations with the West to a new post-Cold War low.

After Britain expelled 23 Russians it said were spies working under diplomatic cover, Russia followed by throwing out 23 British diplomats. The United States and other Western countries, including most member states of the European Union and NATO, expelled over 100 diplomats.

Sergei Skripal

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Sergei Skripal
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - MARCH 6, 2018: Pictured in this file image dated August 9, 2006, is retired colonel Sergei Skripal during a hearing at the Moscow District Court. File image/Press Office of Moscow District Military Court/TASS (Photo by TASS\TASS via Getty Images)
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - MARCH 05: A forensic tent stands over a bench where a man and a women had been found unconcious the previous day, on March 5, 2018 in Salisbury, England. The man is believed to be Sergei Skripal, 66, who was granted refuge in the UK following a 'spy swap' between the US and Russia in 2010. The couple remain critically ill after being exposed to an 'unknown substance'. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - MARCH 6, 2018: Pictured in this file image dated August 9, 2006, is retired colonel Sergei Skripal during a hearing at the Moscow District Court. File image/Press Office of Moscow District Military Court/TASS (Photo by TASS\TASS via Getty Images)
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - MARCH 05: A forensic tent stands over a bench where a man and a women had been found unconcious the previous day, on March 5, 2018 in Salisbury, England. The man is believed to be Sergei Skripal, 66, who was granted refuge in the UK following a 'spy swap' between the US and Russia in 2010. The couple remain critically ill after being exposed to an 'unknown substance'. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - MARCH 05: A forensic tent stands over a bench where a man and woman had been found unconscious the previous day, on March 5, 2018 in Salisbury, England. The man is believed to be Sergei Skripal, 66, who was granted refuge in the UK following a 'spy swap' between the US and Russia in 2010. The couple remain critically ill after being exposed to an 'unknown substance'. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - MARCH 06: A forensic tent stands over a bench where a man and woman had been found unconscious the previous day, on March 6, 2018 in Salisbury, England. The man is believed to be Sergei Skripal, 66, who was granted refuge in the UK following a 'spy swap' between the US and Russia in 2010. The couple remain critically ill after being exposed to an 'unknown substance'. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - MARCH 06: A general view inside Zizzi Restaurant in town centre, where a man and woman had been found unconscious two days previosly, on March 6, 2018 in Salisbury, England. The man is believed to be Sergei Skripal, 66, who was granted refuge in the UK following a 'spy swap' between the US and Russia in 2010. The couple remain critically ill after being exposed to an 'unknown substance'. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - MARCH 06: Police officers man a cordon near a forensic tent (not pictured) where a man and woman had been found unconscious two days previosly, on March 6, 2018 in Salisbury, England. The man is believed to be Sergei Skripal, 66, who was granted refuge in the UK following a 'spy swap' between the US and Russia in 2010. The couple remain critically ill after being exposed to an 'unknown substance'. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - MARCH 06: A man walks past Zizzi Restaurant in town centre, where a man and woman had been found unconscious two days previosly, on March 6, 2018 in Salisbury, England. The man is believed to be Sergei Skripal, 66, who was granted refuge in the UK following a 'spy swap' between the US and Russia in 2010. The couple remain critically ill after being exposed to an 'unknown substance'. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - MARCH 06: A journalist shows CCTV footage on a mobile phone showing a man and woman who were later found unconscious, on March 6, 2018 in Salisbury, England. The man is believed to be Sergei Skripal, 66, who was granted refuge in the UK following a 'spy swap' between the US and Russia in 2010. The couple remain critically ill after being exposed to an 'unknown substance'. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - MARCH 06: Police officers stand outside the home of Sergei Skripal after a man and woman were found unconscious in Salisbury town centre two days previously, on March 6, 2018 in Salisbury, England. The man is believed to be Sergei Skripal, 66, who was granted refuge in the UK following a 'spy swap' between the US and Russia in 2010. The couple remain critically ill after being exposed to an 'unknown substance'. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
A police officer stands on duty after former Russian inteligence officer Sergei Skripal, and a woman were found unconscious on a bench nearby after they had been exposed to an unknown substance, in Salisbury, Britain, March 6, 2018. REUTERS/Toby Melville
Police officers stand at crime scene tape, as a tent covers a park bench on which former Russian inteligence officer Sergei Skripal, and a woman were found unconscious after they had been exposed to an unknown substance, in Salisbury, Britain, March 6, 2018. REUTERS/Toby Melville
A police car is parked next to crime scene tape, as a tent covers a park bench on which former Russian inteligence officer Sergei Skripal, and a woman were found unconscious after they had been exposed to an unknown substance, in Salisbury, Britain, March 6, 2018. REUTERS/Toby Melville
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - MARCH 06: A police officer stands outside The Mill pub after a man and woman had been found unconscious nearby two days previously, on March 6, 2018 in Salisbury, England. The man is believed to be Sergei Skripal, 66, who was granted refuge in the UK following a 'spy swap' between the US and Russia in 2010. The couple remain critically ill after being exposed to an 'unknown substance'. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Police officers stand next to a squad car next to crime scene tape, as a tent covers a park bench on which former Russian inteligence officer Sergei Skripal, and a woman were found unconscious after they had been exposed to an unknown substance, in Salisbury, Britain, March 6, 2018. REUTERS/Toby Melville
Police officers stand at crime scene tape, as a tent covers a park bench on which former Russian inteligence officer Sergei Skripal, and a woman were found unconscious after they had been exposed to an unknown substance, in Salisbury, Britain, March 6, 2018. REUTERS/Toby Melville
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"ENOUGH IS ENOUGH"

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said the Kremlin had underestimated the Western response to the attack on Skripal and his daughter, which also injured a British policeman.

Johnson told an audience of ambassadors in London that 27 countries have now moved to expel Russian diplomats over Moscow's suspected involvement - which Russia denies.

"These expulsions represent a moment when a feeling has suddenly crystallized, when years of vexation and provocation have worn the collective patience to breaking point, and when across the world – across three continents – there are countries who are willing to say enough is enough," Johnson said.

"If they (Russia) believed that we had become so morally weakened, so dependent on hydrocarbons, so chronically risk averse and so fearful of Russia that we would not dare to respond, then this is their answer," he added.

Putin, who has been dealing with a deadly shopping center fire in Siberia, has yet to respond, though Moscow has threatened to take retaliatory action against the West.

“An analysis of all the circumstances ... leads us to think of the possible involvement in it (the poisoning) of the British intelligence services,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday before the announcement by British police.

“If convincing evidence to the contrary is not presented to the Russian side we will consider that we are dealing with an attempt on the lives of our citizens as a result of a massive political provocation."

A London court last week gave permission for blood samples to be taken from the Skripals for examination by chemical weapons inspectors to confirm a conclusion by Britain that the military nerve agent had been used.

An unidentified doctor who is treating the Skripals said they were both heavily sedated and unable to communicate, and that it was not possible to assess when or to what extent either may regain mental capacity, according to the court's ruling.

Skripal, who was turned by British spies while in Spain, ended up in Britain after a Cold War-style spy swap that brought 10 Russian spies captured in the United States back to Moscow in exchange for those accused by Moscow of spying for the West.

Since emerging from the John le Carre world of high espionage and betrayal, Skripal lived modestly in the English cathedral city of Salisbury and kept out of the spotlight until he was found unconscious on March 4.

His house in Salisbury, which featured a good-luck horseshoe on the front door, was bought for 260,000 pounds ($360,000) in 2011. Skripal was listed at living there under his own name.

In the years since he found refuge in Britain, Skripal lost both a wife and son.

The attack on Skripal has been likened in Britain to the killing of ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko, a critic of Putin, who died in London in 2006 after drinking green tea laced with radioactive polonium 210.

Russia denied any involvement in that killing.

An inquiry led by senior British judge Robert Owen found that former KGB bodyguard Andrei Lugovoy and another Russian, Dmitry Kovtun, carried out the killing as part of an operation probably directed by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB).

British police said they would continue to focus their enquiries around Skripal's home address as the investigation continued. (Writing by Richard Balmforth and Guy Faulconbridge Editing by Andrew Heavens, David Stamp and Leslie Adler)

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