LONDON (AP) " Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal has been discharged from a British hospital more than two months after he was poisoned with a nerve agent and left fighting for his life, health officials said Friday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the news gave him joy but used the occasion to denounce the British claim that Russia had poisoned the ex-spy with a military-grade nerve agent.

"If a military-grade agent had been used as our British colleagues claimed, the man would have died on the spot," Putin said, speaking after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the southern Russian city of Sochi. "Thank God he has recovered, has walked out of the hospital and I hope will stay safe and healthy."

Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious in the English city of Salisbury on March 4, and spent weeks in critical condition.

Yulia, 33, recovered more quickly than her father and was discharged last month.

Salisbury District Hospital said Friday that all three people hospitalized in the attack " the Skripals and a police officer who came to their assistance " had now been released.

The Skripals have been taken to an undisclosed location for their safety.

"We have been able to discharge Sergei Skripal," said Lorna Wilkinson, director of nursing at the hospital. "This is an important stage in his recovery, which will now take place away from the hospital."

Sergei Skripal is a former Russian intelligence officer who was convicted of spying for Britain before coming to the U.K. as part of a 2010 prisoner swap. He had been living quietly in the cathedral city of Salisbury, 90 miles (145 kilometers) southwest of London, when he was struck down.

Britain said Russia poisoned the Skripals with a Soviet-designed nerve agent dubbed Novichok was behind the attack. Moscow has vehemently denied the claim and criticized Britain for failing to provide any evidence and stonewalling Russian requests for information.

Putin reaffirmed Friday that Russia's offer to jointly investigate the poisoning case stands.

The poisoning has sparked a Cold War-style diplomatic crisis between Russia and the West, including the expulsion of hundreds of diplomats from both sides.

The international chemical weapons watchdog has backed up Britain's conclusions about the poisoning agent used in the attack on the Skripals.

British police say they believe the toxin was smeared on the door handle of Skripal's suburban house. Hundreds of counterterrorism officers and support staff have been assigned to the case but police have not yet named any suspects.


Frank Jordans in Sochi contributed to this report.