United Kingdom says Russia's Putin is ultimately responsible for Novichok attack

Saul Bowman
September 10, 2018

They are accused of trying to kill former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia with Novichok in the English city of Salisbury on March 4, in an attack London believes was sanctioned by the Kremlin.

Moscow accused the United Kingdom government of seeking to unleash anti-Russian hysteria on Thursday as Britain sought backing at the UN Security Council for its conclusion that members of the Russian military intelligence service were behind the nerve agent attack on a former spy.

The spat at the United Nations came after Britain raised the stakes in its diplomatic battle and accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of having ultimate responsibility for the nerve agent attack on a former spy.

In the joint statement, the leaders said: "We have full confidence in the British assessment that the two suspects were officers from the Russian military intelligence service, also known as the GRU, and that this operation was nearly certainly approved at a senior government level".

Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement and some Russian officials have suggested the British security services carried out that attack to stoke anti-Moscow hysteria.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the names and images of Petrov and Boshirov "say nothing to us".

Commons Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Tom Tugendhat said there was "no doubt it was state ordered and President Putin bears responsibility for a war-like act".

"We can not account for the whereabouts of the bottle, nozzle or box between the attack on the Skripals on March 4 and when Charlie Rowley said he found it on Wednesday June 27".

Russian Federation could only regret London's reluctance to interact with Moscow, Peskov said.

Mr Corbyn had a security briefing this morning from officials which doesn't appear to have gone into "next steps" but did manage to convince him that the Russian state itself was responsible for the attacks in Salisbury and the Russian state should be condemned. Both Skripal, a GRU officer who turned double agent for Britain, and his daughter were hospitalized for weeks in critical condition. The Telegraph said their true names were known to the security services.

The unveiling of the findings of what police said had been one of the most complex and intensive counter-terrorism investigations ever mounted was accompanied by a dose of realpolitik about the prospects of the two suspects - who are in their 40s and believed to have been travelling under aliases - facing trial.

According to the source, some foreigners, including Russians, will lose the visa if the government will find they have "evidence of serious financial irregularities". Mr Corbyn said samples of the nerve agent involved should be sent to the Russian government so they could help to identify it. Police revealed that CCTV showed them in the vicinity of the Skripal house.

He said of the "sickening and despicable" attack: "Unequivocally, crystal clear this was the act of the Russian state, two Russian nationals sent to Britain with the sole objective of carrying out a reckless assassination attempt".

British police have linked the Salisbury attack to a separate Novichok poisoning on June 30 in nearby Amesbury that led to the death of a 44-year-old woman.

Ms Sturgess, who died after being exposed to novichok, and Mr Rowley, were not targeted intentionally, May said, but rather were victims of "the reckless disposal of this agent". "Criminal behavior GRU violates global law and the regime of non-proliferation" of chemical weapons, the report says.

"This has included trying to pass the blame for this attack onto terrorists, onto our worldwide partners, and even onto the future mother-in-law of Yulia Skripal".

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