The British military has been sent in to assist with the investigation into the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.
Sergei and Yulia collapsed on Sunday afternoon and were found unconscious near the Maltings shopping center in Salisbury. It was later discovered that they had both been exposed to a nerve agent in an apparent assassination attempt.
The counter-terrorism unit of the British Metropolitan Police has been handling the investigation; however, given the nerve agent’s potential for widespread damage to the surrounding population, the military has been called in to assist.
Roughly 180 military personnel have been deployed to Salisbury. The majority are from the British Army, but are also joined by members of the British Royal Marines and the British Royal Air Force; all of the personnel are experts in chemical warfare and decontamination.
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said that the military has been asked to help “remove a number of vehicles and objects from the scene.” These vehicles include the ambulances that took the Skripals to the hospital, as counter-terrorism officials fear they may have been contaminated during the transport. (Both Sergei and Yulia remain in critical condition at Salisbury District Hospital.)
Hoping to avoid a public panic, the police further noted that there is no evidence to suggest a widespread health risk at this time.
Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey was on the scene of the Skripals’ collapse and was exposed to the nerve agent. He is also currently hospitalized in serious but stable condition.
According to Valery Morozov, a Russian exile, Skripal’s role as a Russian spy was in cyber security, though it is unclear at this time the exact nature of his responsibilities.