Published: Mon, September 10, 2018
Global Media | By Derrick Guzman

Russian nationals identified as suspects over Salisbury nerve agent attack on Skripals

Russian nationals identified as suspects over Salisbury nerve agent attack on Skripals

The statement is direct: '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.' The statement follows the September 5 announcement by the United Kingdom that it was charging two Russian nationals-using the likely aliases of Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov-with conducting the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal and Yulia Skripal on March 4, in Salisbury.

British prosecutors on Wednesday charged two Russian nationals with the attack on the Skripals in the English city of Salisbury using the nerve agent Novichok.

The council will meet in open session at around 11:30 am (1530 GMT), diplomats said.

British authorities have issued European arrest warrants for Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, two suspected members of Russian military intelligence.

Police released CCTV of the men's movements in the days before the attack, which May said was "hard evidence [that] has enabled the independent Crown Prosecution Service to conclude they have a sufficient basis on which to bring charges against these two men for the attack in Salisbury".

Javid described the GRU as a "very well-disciplined organization" that would "only act with orders from the highest level of the Russian government".

Police say the men travelled on Russian passports bearing the names Petrov and Boshirov, but that these are nearly certainly aliases.

Mr Javid told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show the GRU operated on a "very short leash from the Kremlin" and was "getting its instructions directly from the highest levels of the Russian government".

From the beginning, the case had all the makings of a Hollywood spy thriller, complete with revelations that the attack involved an extremely rare nerve agent developed in Russian Federation, known as Novichok.

Detectives believe the front door of Mr Skripal's Salisbury home was contaminated with Novichok on March 4.

Britain has also called a meeting of the United Nations Security Council - of which Russian Federation is a permanent member - for Thursday.

"On Saturday March 3 they visited Salisbury, arriving at approximately 2.25pm and leaving less than two hours later, at 4.10pm".

British Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday underlined that "28 other countries, as well as North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, joined us in expelling a total of over 150 Russian intelligence officers: the largest collective expulsion ever", following the Salisbury attack.

Moscow strongly denies involvement in the attack, and Russian officials said they didn't recognize the suspects.

Peskov also said that Russian Federation "has no reasons" to investigate the two individuals charged Wednesday because Britain has not asked for legal assistance in the case.

Sue Hemming of the Crown Prosecution Service said the United Kingdom wouldn't ask Moscow to hand the men over because Russian law forbids extradition of its citizens.

The two Russian nationals are believed to have been traveling under aliases, although they had genuine Russian passports with the identities of Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov.

In the nearby town of Amesbury, local mother-of-three Dawn Sturgess died and her boyfriend, Charlie Rowley, was sickened after they came across remnants of the poison in what appeared to be a perfume bottle.

Earlier on Thursday, British Security Minister Ben Wallace held Russian President Vladimir Putin "ultimately responsible" for the Salisbury nerve-agent attack. As a result, Basu said, police are not yet ready to bring charges in the second poisoning.

The officer continues to make good progress but remains off work, police said.

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

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