Russian President Vladimir Putin had harsh words when asked about the poisoning of a Russian ex-spy who was poisoned with Novichok nerve agent in Salisbury, England in March 2018 — an incident that has since been blamed on Russian intelligence officers.
WATCH: (Nov. 22, 2018) British police release video of Skripal poisoning suspects
“All this fuss about spies and counterspies, it is not worth serious interstate relations,” Putin told the newspaper.
His remarks emerged as he met with outgoing U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, marking the first time the pair had met since 2016.
May took strong measures against Russia after reports emerged that Sergei Skripal, an ex-spy and Salisbury resident, had been poisoned with Novichok alongside his daughter Yulia, who was visiting from Russia in 2018.
Skripal had been convicted of revealing the identities of Russian agents to MI6, the U.K. intelligence service, and was sent to prison for 10 years in 2006. He was released in 2010 as part of an exchange. Putin once called him a “scumbag” and “traitor.”
The pair were found ill on a bench outside Zizzi restaurant on March 4, 2018, with one witness reporting that a woman was frothing from her mouth, her eyes “wide open but completely white,” BBC News reported.
Both were taken to hospital; Yulia remained there until April 2018, while Skripal was released in May of that year.
Two Russians — reportedly Russian colonels Alexander Mishkin and Anatoly Chepiga — are believed to have sprayed Novichok on the door handle of Skripal’s home.
WATCH: (Nov. 22, 2018) Head of Russian spy agency accused of Sergei Skripal poisoning dead at 62
Novichok is a nerve agent that was designed by Soviet scientists between the 1970s and 1990s with the aim of killing, The Conversation reported.
The agent “disrupts communication between nerves and muscles or nerves in the brain,” paralyzes muscles that people use to breathe, and stops the heart, wrote neurotoxicologist William Atchison.
In response to the incident, which the head of one authority believed had been carried out by a “state actor,” the prime minister expelled 23 Russian diplomats and their families from the country.
May also said ministers and the Royal Family wouldn’t attend the 2018 World Cup in Russia, and that all planned high-level communications between the countries were to be suspended, BBC News reported.
Putin and May’s meeting came as reports emerged suggesting a third suspect in the incident.
BBC News reported Friday that Denis Sergeyev, a senior member of Russian military intelligence, is believed to have commanded the poisoning, citing phone records and unnamed sources.
Investigative website Bellingcat reported Sergeyev’s alleged connection to the incident in February.
WATCH: Putin denounces poisoned Russian ex-spy, calls him ‘scumbag’
According to BBC News, Sergeyev, who allegedly holds the rank of major general in GRU, Russia’s intelligence agency, travelled to the U.K. on March 2 and left on March 4, the day the poison was placed on Skripal’s door.
While in the U.K., Sergeyev is believed to have made contact with people in Moscow
On March 3, he was reported to have travelled to the centre of London. BBC News reported that there was a window of as much as 40 minutes when he could have met with Mishkin and Chepiga, who were believed to have flown into Gatwick airport on March 2.
It’s not clear how the two men obtained the nerve agent, nor how it was disposed.
— With files from Reuters and The Associated Press