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Novichok strikes (but doesn’t kill) again, and all the old questions re-emerge

Four months to the day after the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter kicked off a massive blame game and diplomatic crisis, there’s a new chemical incident in the UK. According to officials, it’s Novichok all over again.

Two people, this time a British couple in their 40s with no link to Russian intelligence, were affected by a chemical substance on Saturday. Four days later, the UK’s counter-terrorism chief said the chemical that hit them was the same that sent former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, into a coma in early March. Back then, it took mere hours for the UK government to pin the blame on Moscow and unleash a massive diplomatic offensive together with its allies. Moscow, still waiting for compelling evidence to be produced, has been shut out of the investigation, and it has raised a number of questions about the poisoning – none of which have been answered.

Linking the two poisonings “is clearly a line of enquiry” for UK investigators, but the new incident doesn’t look likely to answer any of those concerns either.

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