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Putin bears ‘ultimate responsibility’ for Salisbury novichok attack, says UK security minister


Vladimir Putin bears “final accountability” for the Salisbury novichok assault, the safety minister has mentioned as British and Russian officers put together to confront one another at the UN Security Council.

Ben Wallace confirmed the 2 suspects identified by the Metropolitan Police have been serving members of the GRU army intelligence company, the place Sergei Skripal served as a colonel earlier than passing secrets and techniques to MI6.

Requested whether or not Mr Putin was chargeable for their actions, he advised BBC Radio four’s At present programme: “In the end he does, insofar as he’s president of the Russian Federation and it’s his authorities that controls, funds and directs the army intelligence – that is the GRU – by way of his minister of defence. 

“The GRU is a army intelligence unit, troopers are presupposed to be disciplined, they may comply with orders.”

Mr Wallace mentioned the Russian president, who was himself an intelligence officer within the KGB and FSB, nonetheless “takes pleasure in surrounding himself with serving and former intelligence officers”.

“The GRU is linked to each the senior members of the Russian normal employees and the defence minister and, by means of that, into the Kremlin and the president’s workplace,” he added.

It got here after Theresa Might advised MPs the tried assassination will need to have been approved at a “senior level of the Russian state”, including: “This was not a rogue operation.”

(Metropolitan Police)

The prime minister vowed that Britain would wage an international campaign to disrupt “malign Russian activity” and dismantle spy networks.

Mr May signalled new sanctions in opposition to Russia, with authorities insiders suggesting key GRU figures may very well be focused with journey bans and asset freezes.

Mr Wallace mentioned the UK would use “no matter means throughout the regulation” to push again together with overt diplomatic expulsions and sanctions, and retaliation “within the covert house”.

The Overseas Workplace has hauled in probably the most senior Russian diplomat within the UK to elucidate his authorities’s actions, whereas British officers ready to take the case to an emergency UN Safety Council afterward Thursday.

Mr Wallace predicted Russia would use its energy of veto as a everlasting member of the physique to dam any response to the Salisbury assault, after denying accountability and furthering conspiracy theories.

The Russian Embassy in London accused British authorities of being unwilling to have interaction with them and referred to as on the federal government to ”quit politicised public accusations“.

Forward of the UN Safety Council assembly, Downing Avenue mentioned Ms Might had already mentioned the matter with Donald Trump and was anticipating additional calls with different leaders.

Australia has mentioned it was in ”lock step“ with the UK on the significance of holding Russia to account over the ”heinous“ assault, though it’s not at the moment a council member.

European Arrest Warrants and Interpol crimson notices have been issued for the 2 suspects, who travelled to Britain on Russian passports within the names of Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov.

Police consider they’re aliases and are interesting for data from the general public, however safety providers recognized them as GRU members who’ve “travelled extensively” all over the world and to the UK beforehand.

They flew into London from Moscow on 2 March, allegedly carried out reconnaissance in Salisbury the next day after which launched the assault.

Investigators caught the pair on CCTV close to Mr Skripal’s home on the time when novichok was unfold on his entrance door, inflicting him and his daughter to fall critically unwell hours later.

They might have used the identical counterfeit fragrance bottle containing novichok that later poisoned Charlie Rowley and killed Daybreak Sturgess.

Police discovered traces of novichok within the London resort room utilized by the 2 suspects earlier than they left Britain on a Moscow-bound flight on the night of four March.

Prosecutors have charged the 2 suspects with conspiracy to homicide Mr Skripal, tried homicide, utilizing novichok and different offences, however haven’t sought an extradition warrant from Russia as a result of its structure forbids handing over criminals to different international locations.

The suspects will solely be caught in the event that they journey to an allied nation and are recognised.

Sir Mark Rowley, the previous head of UK counterterror policing, mentioned the state of affairs mirrored the Alexander Litvinenko case and there was solely a “small risk that these individuals will come to justice”.

Russian intelligence officer Alexander Litvinenko was assassinated utilizing polonium tea in London in 2006 (Getty) (Getty)

British investigators recognized Andrey Lugovoy because the chief suspect for poisoning the previous FSB agent, who had been granted asylum within the UK, after he left a path of radioactive polonium proper as much as the airplane he boarded again to Russia. 

He has by no means been prosecuted and Russia refused an extradition request from the UK underneath its structure. 

“There are individuals in Russia needed in relation to the Litvinenko case and there’s no signal of them being produced,” Sir Mark mentioned.

“So that you wouldn’t anticipate a fast decision right here, however loyalties change, regimes change. There’s no purpose to surrender house and to not anticipate potentialities within the subsequent decade or past to carry individuals to justice.”

Mr Skripal served within the GRU for greater than a decade earlier than passing secrets and techniques to MI6 that unmasked undercover Russian spies in Europe.

He was sentenced to 13 years in jail for treason by espionage in 2006, however freed 4 years later as a part of a high-profile spy-swap and flown to Britain.

It was assumed that Mr Skripal can be given a brand new identification and secret house, however he lived an apparently quiet life underneath his actual identify in Salisbury.

Earlier this yr, the nationwide safety advisor revealed that Russia had been spying on Sergei and Yulia Skripal for no less than 5 years earlier than the tried assassination.


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