Whoever attacked a former Russian spy with a rare nerve agent is guilty of a "brazen and reckless act," and Britain will respond without hesitation when it becomes clear who is responsible, the country's security minister said today.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd said enormous resources were being used to determine poisoned Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter, Yulia, 33.
The pair were found unconscious on a bench in the English city of Salisbury on Sunday, triggering a police investigation led by counterterrorism detectives.
Skripal and his daughter are in critical but stable condition at a hospital in Salisbury.
A police officer who came to their aid is in a serious condition, though he is conscious and talking, Rudd said.
He was identified Thursday as Sgt. Nick Bailey.
"The use of a nerve agent on British soil is a brazen and reckless act," Rudd told lawmakers in the House of Commons.
Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter, Yulia, 33.
Source: 1 NEWS
"This was attempted murder in the most cruel and public way."
As speculation centered on suspicions that Russia was behind the attack, Rudd said "people are right to want to know who to hold to account.
But if we are to be rigorous in this investigation we must avoid speculation and allow the police to carry on their investigation."
Rudd said the "government will act without hesitation as the facts become clearer."
The Russian Embassy in London, which has mocked other British politicians for suggesting Russian involvement, tweeted that it agreed with Rudd: "First evidence then conclusions on Mr. Skripal's case. Responsible political approach."
Police have refused to speculate on who is behind the attack, but many have focused on Russia because of the case's similarity to the 2006 killing of another former Russian spy who was poisoned in London with radioactive polonium-210.
A public inquiry found that Russia was responsible for the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, and that President Vladimir Putin probably approved it.
The Russian government has denied any involvement in the Litvinenko killing or the attempted murder of Skripal, a former Russian agent who had served jail time in his homeland for spying for Britain before being freed in a spy swap.
In an interview with the BBC, Rudd refused to speculate about what nerve agent may have been used, but she confirmed that it was a "very rare" toxic substance.