The poisoned daughter of an ex-Russian spy said on Thursday she’s recovering quickly after her ordeal, while Russia strongly protested being locked out of the probe into the nerve agent that sickened her and her father.
Britain has blamed Russia for the March 4 poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in the city of Salisbury. In response, more than two dozen Western allies including Britain, the U.S. and NATO have ordered out over 150 Russian diplomats in a show of solidarity.
Moscow has fiercely denied its involvement in the nerve agent attack and expelled an equal number of envoys. The diplomatic turmoil has hit lows unseen even at the height of the Cold War.
Early on Thursday, three buses believed to be carrying expelled American diplomats departed from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow after putting their luggage on trucks. Some toted pet carriers.
Yulia Skripal said in statement released on Thursday by British police that her strength is growing daily and expressed gratitude to those who came to her aid.
“I am sure you appreciate that the entire episode is somewhat disorientating, and I hope that you’ll respect my privacy and that of my family during the period of my convalescence,” the 33-year-old said.
The British hospital treating the Skripals has confirmed that Ms. Yulia’s condition has improved, while her father (66), has remained in critical condition.
Russian state television on Thursday released a recording of what it said was a phone call between Ms. Yulia Skripal and her cousin in Russia. In it, Ms. Yulia Skripal says she and her father are both recovering and in normal health. She says her father is sleeping and his health has not been irreparably damaged.
Rossiya TV said Mr. Skripal’s niece, Viktoria, who lives in Moscow, gave the station the recording of her conversation with Yulia. The broadcaster said it can’t verify the recording’s authenticity.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, meanwhile, described the British accusations against Moscow over the nerve agent poisoning of the Skripals as a mockery of international law. Speaking at a news conference Thursday, Lavrov insisted that the poisoning case was fabricated by Britain to “demonize” Russia.