Tillerson: Nerve agent used to poison ex-spy “clearly came from Russia”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Monday that the nerve agent used to poison a Russian ex-spy and his daughter in the U.K. “clearly came from Russia” and said the episode “certainly will trigger a response.”

“This is a really egregious act,” Tillerson said Monday aboard a plane home from a trip to Africa. “It appears that it clearly came from Russia.”

Earlier Monday, British Prime Minister Theresa May said it was “highly likely” that Russia was behind the attack. Sergei Skripal, the Russian who spied for Britain, and his 33-year old daughter Yulia remained in critical condition on Monday.  

“Whether it came from Russia, with the Russian government’s knowledge, is not known to me at this point,” Tillerson said. He said it’s almost “beyond comprehension” that an organized state would take the dangerous substance to another country and public place where others could get hurt.

Tillerson said he’s become “extremely concerned about Russia” despite what he said was a year of trying to work with the country. “Instead what we’ve seen is a pivot on their part to be more aggressive,” he said.

In a separate statement, the State Department said, “Russia continues to be an irresponsible force of instability in the world, acting with open disregard for the sovereignty of other states and the life of their citizens.” It added that those who committed the crime “must face appropriately serious consequences.” 

Earlier Monday, White House press secretary called the attack “reckless, indiscriminate and irresponsible,” but stopped short of agreeing with May that Russia was likely behind the poisoning.

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