MOSCOW: The diplomatic fallout between Russia and Britain over the poisoning of Sergei Skripal took another bizarre turn on Wednesday as Moscow complained of a lack of information about the former double agent's pets.
Foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova suggested the state and the whereabouts of the animals could provide clues about the poisoning of the ex-spy and his daughter in England a month ago.
"We have credible information that the Skripals had pets in their home," she said during a briefing.
"This has a direct relation to the case, if we are talking about the use of chemical weapons and since several versions (of the poisoning) link it to the house where the Skripals lived," she added.
"Where are the animals, what state are they in? Why has the British side...not mentioned this fact? We are talking about living organisms, and if toxic agents were used then living organisms must have suffered."
The previous day, Skripal's niece was quoted in the Russian press as saying her uncle had cats and guinea pigs in the house.
She rejected the idea the former spy and his daughter could have been poisoned in their Salisbury home, saying the animals would also have been affected.
London has accused Moscow of being behind the attempted murder, but Russia has angrily rejected the claims and on Wednesday said British and US secret services orchestrated the attack.
More than 150 Russian diplomats have been ordered out of the US, EU members, NATO countries and other nations as punishment for the attack on March 4, prompting reciprocal measures from Moscow.