Putin "remains absolutely calm" in the situation with the UK

Poisoned Russian Spy May Never Recover Mental Functions, British Judge Says

According to The Times Mr Skripal and his daughter may have permanent brain damage, according to evidence given at a closed-door court hearing this week.

Timoshkov said he lost touch with Skripal after they were at school together but contacted his daughter Yulia on social media after hearing about his imprisonment for treason.

"In 2012 he called me". However, Moscow's request for samples of the chemical substance used to poison Skripal was denied.

"He called me from London".

Mr Timoshkov added that Mr Skripal told him that "he wrote to Vladimir Putin asking to be fully pardoned and to be allowed to visit Russian Federation. His mother, brother and other relatives were [in Russia]".

He regretted being "a double agent" because his life had become "all messed up", his friend claimed.

Skripal, who also worked for United Kingdom intelligence, and his daughter have been in hospital in a critical condition since March 4 and are being treated for exposure to what the United Kingdom experts believe to be the A234 nerve agent. Skripal was earlier convicted in Russia of spying for Great Britain and exchanged for Russian intelligence officers.

The attempted assassination sparked an diplomatic crisis between Russian Federation and Britain, which has been supported by its allies in apportioning blame to the Kremlin.

One of those countries, Finland, expelled one Russian diplomat but called on the European Union to engage in dialogue with Moscow to "mend fences".

Alexander Vakovenko wrote: "I would like to express my honest gratitude to you for your bravery when reacting to the assault on two Russian nationals, Sergei and Yulia Skripal, on 4 March in Salisbury, who I hope will get well soon too". "The United States is considering a range of options to respond to this outrageous incident, both to demonstrate our solidarity with our Ally and to hold Russian Federation accountable for its clear breach of worldwide norms and agreements".

The bench that Sergei and Yulia Skripal were sitting on when they were discovered unresponsive in Salisbury was taken away for analysis on Friday.

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