OTTAWA -- Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says Canada condemns what she calls "the despicable use of a chemical agent" in a March 4 attack in the United Kingdom:

Russia is accused of using a nerve agent against former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. Both remain in critical condition in a Salisbury hospital.

"We condemn in the strongest terms the despicable use of a chemical agent on the sovereign territory of the United Kingdom," said Freeland in a statement early Wednesday.

"Russia's likely involvement in this attack is a serious breach of the rules-based order."

Freeland's statement comes as British Prime Minister Theresa May and her national security council meet to consider sanctions against Russia after Moscow ignored a deadline to explain how the nerve agent was used to target the former spy.

Moscow says it won't comply with Britain's demands unless the government provides samples of the poison collected by investigators. Russia's embassy in the U.K. warned Tuesday that any sanctions would "meet with a response."

"Canada offers its complete support to the United Kingdom and call on all states to co-operate fully with British investigators," said Freeland.

-- With files from The Associated Press