Britain to brief United Nations council on charges against Russian spies

Sep 10, 2018, 03:05
Britain to brief United Nations council on charges against Russian spies

Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov are now wanted in the case, according to the Crown Prosecution Service.

On Wednesday, British authorities named two Russian national as the suspects of Salisbury nerve-agent attack that targeted former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal earlier this year.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4's Today program, Wallace went further than Prime Minister Theresa May's assertion that the attack "was nearly certainly also approved outside the GRU at a senior level of the Russian state".

The charges deepen Britain's diplomatic feud with Moscow, which denies involvement in the attack on Skripal, a former Russian agent who had been convicted in his homeland of spying for Britain.

The photos were among a cache of evidence when British authorities accused two Russian men, identified as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, of carrying out the attack.

"We now have sufficient evidence to bring charges in relation to the attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury and domestic and European arrest warrants have been issued for the two suspects".

Mr Basu conceded it was "very, very unlikely" police would be in a position to arrest them anytime soon.

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Police say the men, both about 40, flew from Moscow to London on Russian passports two days before the Skripals were poisoned on March 4. They were both since discharged from the Salisbury District Hospital. A police officer, Nick Bailey, was also hospitalised.

Six months after the chemical weapons attack rocked the quiet cathedral city, police released new details about what Basu called "one of the most complex investigations" the force had ever seen. They travelled under genuine Russian passports although their names are believed to be aliases.

The investigation by the CPS recovered CCTV footage of the two Russian nationals after they flew into Gatwick airport on an Aeroflot flight on the 2 March and stayed in the City Stay hotel in east London.

Police also said the men's hotel room had returned dangerously-high levels of Novichok when police conducted tests for it.

Police believe the nerve agent was smuggled to Britain in a counterfeit Nina Ricci perfume bottle and applied to the front door of Sergei Skripal's house.

Her partner, Charlie Rowley, was also stricken.

Dawn Sturgess, 44, became an indirect casualty of the poisoning and she died after she touched the poisoned item with her hand.

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The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons confirmed Tuesday that Rowley and Sturgess were also exposed to Novichok.

Rowley tried to put the two parts of the bottle together at home on June 30, during which he got some of the poison on himself.

Later, she told the state news agency Interfax that the ministry demanded that the British supply Russian Federation with the fingerprints of the two men accused of the attempted murder of the Skripals. Britain spent years trying in vain to prosecute the prime suspects, Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun.

UK Security Minister Ben Wallace has suggested that Russian President Vladimir Putin is "ultimately" to blame for the Salisbury poisoning, as "it is his government that controls, funds and directs" the GRU intelligence service.

Basu would not comment on whether the Skripals had faced threats before the attack or where they were now located.

Although another spy agency, the SVR, is Russia's official foreign intelligence service, the GRU is mandated to undertake operations around the world.

Moscow said pointing the finger at the Kremlin was "unacceptable".

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May said Britain and its allies would "step up our collective efforts" against the agency, though she did not name any specific measures.