For the first time, the US State Department directly accused the FSB of poisoning Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, CNN reported.
The State Department transmitted its statement to the broadcaster in response to its inquiry a few days after reports of the first direct evidence of agency involvement in the poisoning emerged.
“The United States believes that Russian FSB officers used the Novichok nerve agent to poison Navalny. There are no other plausible explanations for Navalny’s poisoning other than the involvement and responsibility of the Russian government, – said a spokesman for the State Department. “Of course, President Putin and the Russian government would like us to think differently.”
A State Department spokesman added that Russia’s failure to answer questions about Navalny’s poisoning speaks volumes.
“Russia has put forward a variety of, often conflicting, conspiracy theories,” said a foreign policy official. “Let’s be clear: conspiracy theories like these are nothing more than an opportunity to divert attention from the serious questions that the Russian government has been asking and to which it has not yet answered.”
An investigation by CNN in collaboration with Bellingcat revealed that a group of 6-10 FSB agents specializing in poisonous substances had been tracking Navalny for more than three years before he was poisoned in August by a deadly nerve agent.
This report was followed by a confession from a Russian agent tasked with following Navalny that they had inflicted a nerve agent on his underwear.
The statement, which came not on behalf of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, but on behalf of an unnamed State Department official, said the United States supported the findings of an investigation by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
“The United States is fully confident in the OPCW’s findings, which have confirmed previous results of an investigation by German, French and Swedish laboratories that Navalny was exposed to … the Novichok nerve agent,” a State Department spokesman said.