VLADIMIR Putin’s envoys in the UK have refused to respond to Britain’s ultimatum over the chemical attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury. In a statement on Twitter the Russian embassy threaten retaliation if Theresa May was to respond with “punitive measures”.

Theresa May earlier issued Russian President Vladimir Putin  24 hours to respond to claims that Russia was “highly likely” behind the attempted murder of Mr Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

The ultimatum has sparked World War 3 fears as Whitehall sources revealed the Prime Minister could launch a cyber attack on Russia in the wake of recent events.

It is thought Britain might target Kremlin propaganda machines, with Whitehall sources suggesting the UK will up the ante on its offensive cyber programme.

But the Russian embassy in the UK has hit back at the ultimatum and warned Mrs May against “punitive measures”.

In a further blunt warning to the Prime Minister, Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova added nobody should threaten a nuclear power, according to the nation’s the state-run RIA news agency.

In a series of tweets the Russian embassy in the UK said: “Moscow will not respond to London’s ultimatum until it receives samples of the chemical substance to which the UK investigators are referring.

“Britain must comply with the Chemical Weapons Convention which stipulates joint investigation into the incident, for which Moscow is ready.

“Without that, there can be no sense in any statements from London. The incident appears to be yet another crooked attempt by the UK authorities to discredit Russia.

“Any threat to take ‘punitive’ measures against Russia will meet with a response. The British side should be aware of that.

“Today the Embassy sent a note to the Foreign Office reiterating that Russia is not involved in the Salisbury incident and outlining the above mentioned demands for joint investigation.”

The embassy added: “UK Ambassador Laurence Bristow was summoned to Russia’s ministry of foreign affairs, where first deputy FM Vladimir Titov strongly protested the evidence-free accusations by the UK authorities of Russia’s alleged involvement in the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

“It was stated that the actions of the UK authorities are a clear provocation and that the Russian Federation was not involved in the incident that took place in Salisbury on March 4, 2018.”

Mr Skripal, a former Russian spy turned MI6 agent, and his dauther are in a critical condition after they were found unconscious in Salisbury, Wiltshire, shortly after 4pm on Sunday, March 4.

Following the incident Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, said: “We have to be alive to the fact of state threats.”

In a phone call with Theresa May today, Donald Trump said the US is “with the UK all the way” over investigation into the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

Downing Street added that the US President also agreed the Russian Government “must provide unambiguous answers as to how this nerve agent came to be used”.

According to Whitehall sources Britain will consider implementing a version of the USA’s Magnitsky Act, which lists Russians involved in corruption and human rights abuses, and banning them from entering the UK.

Fresh sanctions against the Kremlin are likely too – as well as beefed up deployments elsewhere in Eastern Europe.

Mrs May might also deploy a specialist cyber unit in Britain in order to attack Kremlin computer networks and troll factories.

Initially Russia said it had no information regarding the “tragic situation” and claimed it was willing to co-operate.

Russian spy attack newsEPA

Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter are in a critical condition following the attack

The news comes as Nikolai Glushkov, a Russian businessman and close associate of late Putin critic Boris Berezovsky, has been found dead in the UK, according to reports.

Mr Glushkov, a former deputy director of Aeroflot, died at the age of 68 at his London home in New Malden, according to Russia’s business FM radio station.

The cause of death has not been confirmed.

The 68-year-old’s body, which had ‘strangulation’ marks on his neck, was discovered by his daughter, according to Russian newspaper Kommersant.

Mr Glushkov was twice charged with fraud in Russia and was a close ally of Mr Berezovsky, who was once one of the most powerful businessmen in Russia and played a pivotal role in Vladimir Putin’s rise to power during the late 1990s.

Berezovsky fell out with Putin in 1999 and fled to Britain, while Glushkov was charged with money laundering and fraud and subsequently jailed until 2004.