The State Department on Wednesday assigned blame to Russia’s internal security service, the FSB, as behind the near-fatal attack on Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny alleged to be by the Novichok nerve agent, in a forceful indictment against Moscow.
“The United States believes that officers from the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) used a Novichok nerve agent to poison Mr. Navalny. There is no plausible explanation for Mr. Navalny’s poisoning other than Russian government involvement and responsibility,” a State Department spokesperson said in a statement to The Hill on Wednesday.
“Of course, President Putin and the Russian government would have us believe otherwise. Russia has suggested numerous, often contradictory, conspiracy theories. Let’s be clear – these types of conspiracy theories are nothing more than a means to deflect attention from the serious questions before the Russian government which it has yet to answer.”
The spokesperson said the U.S. has “full confidence” in findings by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in October that toxic chemicals taken from Navalny’s blood and urine was related to the Novichok group.
“The United States has full confidence in the OPCW’s findings, which confirmed earlier results from German, French and Swedish labs, that Mr. Navalny was exposed to an unscheduled Novichok nerve agent,” the spokesperson said.
The statement from the State Department comes following the publication of a joint investigation between Navalny, the online media outlet Bellingcat and CNN that revealed an elite unit within the FSB placed the poison in Navalny’s underpants after trailing the opposition figure for nearly three years.
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