Nicola Sturgeon has said she was “disappointed” but “not surprised” with Alex Salmond’s comments on the Salisbury poisonings.

The former first minister was criticised after he repeatedly refused to say if the Russian state was behind the Novichok attack in 2018, which seriously injured both Sergei Skripal, a former Russian military officer, and his daughter Yulia.

Ms Sturgeon insisted that there “is no doubt in my mind Russia was behind the poisoning” – adding “I think that is the consensus of belief and opinion”.

Nicola Sturgeon said she had ‘no doubt’ that Russia was behind the attack three years ago (Andrew Milligan/PA)

However, when questioned on the subject on Wednesday, Mr Salmond, who has a show on the Russian state-controlled RT TV channel, said the evidence had been “contested”.

Ms Sturgeon said that, at the time of the incident, she had been “privy to some of the intelligence information and briefing”.

She was clear: “There is no doubt in my mind Russia was behind the poisoning and I think that is the consensus of belief and opinion, and actually the consensus that the evidence points us to on that.

“All decent-minded people who want to stand up for decent values across the world should say that.”

She refused to speculate about the reasons for Mr Salmond’s comments, telling the Scottish Parliamentary Journalists Association: “One of the consequences of Alex now leading a different party to the one I am in is I don’t have to explain what he means when he says, or doesn’t say things, any longer. So I will leave that up to him.”

Asked how she felt about his comments, she said she was “sadly, not surprised” by them.

She added she was “disappointed, because I think that everybody who thinks they have got a role to play in politics – whether I think that is well advised or not – should be mindful of the values of our country and the values we want to project internationally and the reputation of the country internationally”.

Speaking about her former friend and mentor, Ms Sturgeon said: “Clearly I look at him now, and I don’t always recognise the person I was to close to for all these years. That is something I have had to come to terms with over the past couple of years.”