Russia’s ambassador has written to the police officer treated in hospital after the Salisbury attack, wishing him a “full recovery” and assuring him Russia had “nothing to do with this reckless incident”.
Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey was discharged from hospital on Thursday after several weeks of treatment.
He was one of the first to respond to the nerve agent attack on former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter.
Alexander Yakovenko, Russia’s UK ambassador, wrote: “I was relieved to hear you were released from hospital and reunited with your family. I wish you full recovery and hope that you will be able to return to your normal life as soon as possible.
“I would like to express my sincere gratitude to you for your bravery when reacting to the assault on two Russian nationals, Sergei and Yulia Skripal, on 4 March in Salisbury, who I hope will get well soon too.
“Please be assured that Russia has nothing to do with this reckless incident and is ready to cooperate with the British authorities with regard to the investigation both bilaterally and through international organisations.”
After leaving hospital, DS Bailey, 38, said in a written statement that his experience had been “completely surreal”.
He said: “People ask me how I am feeling – but there are really no words to explain how I feel right now.
“I have been so very overwhelmed by the support, cards and messages I have received – everyone has been so incredible.”
His wife, Sarah, also released a statement that said their world had been “turned upside down” and the attack was “the most traumatic event of our life”.
The ambassador’s letter strikes a different tone to his news conference in London earlier this week where he hit back at UK government assertions that Russia was behind the nerve agent attack.
Mr Yakovenko told reporters that Russia “can’t take British words for granted,” and accused the UK of having a “bad record of violating international law and misleading the international community”.
The diplomatic fallout from the Salisbury incident on 4 March continues.
A “large number” of EU countries are set to impose tougher sanctions on Russia after agreeing with the UK claim that the Russian state is to blame.
It is understood nations including France, Estonia, Poland and Lithuania are preparing to expel Russian diplomats – or spies posing as diplomats – from their countries.
Britain has already expelled diplomats from the London embassy, and Russia has now followed suit.
Meanwhile, the bench where the Skripals were found frothing at the mouth and unable to control their bodies has been removed.
Police in chemical suits wrapped it in plastic film and used an angle grinder to cut it from the ground, before hauling it into a back of a van.
It is being kept as evidence as part of the attempted murder investigation.
Sergei and Yulia Skripal remain critical and largely unresponsive in hospital.
A court on Thursday approved a request for international chemical weapons experts to take a sample of their blood to check the UK’s view that they were poisoned with the novichok nerve agent.
The Court of Protection said it was unclear whether they will recover, and if they do their mental capacity could be affected to an unknown degree.