United Kingdom steps up pressure on Russian president over Novichok attack


Prior to the council session, the leaders of Britain, the United States, France, Germany, and Canada said they backed British law enforcement's conclusion that the poisoning was "almost certainly approved at a senior government level" in Russian Federation.

Two Russians accused by London of trying to kill a former double agent with nerve agent posed as businessmen to obtain visas to visit Britain for the attack, a report said Friday.

The Skripals became critically ill after they were exposed to the military grade weapon, but have since been discharged from hospital.

The Skripals were discovered unconscious on March 4 on a bench in the southern English town of Salisbury.

The two men alleged to have been behind the March nerve agent poisoning - Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov - have been identified by the United Kingdom as members of the GRU, Russia's military intelligence service.

They also noted the OPCW's findings that "the exact same chemical nerve agent" was used in the fatal poisoning of Dawn Sturgess. "Unfortunately.In today's speech, we have heard the same set of lies", he said of what he called "a politically motivated investigation".

The nations issued a joint statement on Thursday afternoon, in which they also said the operation was "almost certainly" approved at a senior level of the Moscow government.

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They said the mass expulsion of undeclared GRU officers in Russian embassies in the wake of the Salisbury attack had disrupted the service's activities.

A Downing Street spokesman said Prime Minister Theresa May spoke to US President Donald Trump on Tuesday, Canadian leader Justin Trudeau Wednesday and French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel earlier Thursday.

While Mrs May did not explicitly blame the Kremlin for authorising the attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal, 67, a former GRU agent, and his daughter Yulia, Tory backbencher Tom Tugendhat said there was "no doubt it was state ordered and President Putin bears responsibility for a war-like act".

British Security Minister Ben Wallace said that Putin was "ultimately" responsible for the poisoning in the southwestern city of Salisbury, prompting an angry response from Moscow.

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. "Neither Russia's top leadership nor those in the ranks below, nor any official representatives have anything to do with the events in Salisbury".

In a major new development, Prime Minister Theresa May announced Wednesday that police had issued global arrest warrants for the two suspects, identified as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov.

May later claimed that the duo were officers of the Russian military intelligence agency GRU.

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Putin is "President of the Russian Federation, and it is his government that controls, funds and directs the military intelligence - that's the GRU - via his minister of defence", Wallace told the BBC.

Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in March 2018.

As a permanent member of the Security Council, Russia will be represented at Thursday's meeting - and called on by Britain to update members on progress in the Salisbury investigation - alongside United Kingdom allies such as the U.S. and France.

"Everyone of us in this room, and listening around the world, should be chilled to the bone with the findings of this investigation", U.S. Ambassador Nikiki Haley said in reference to the British probe into the attack.

Britain has said it is not going to seek the men's extradition because Russian law does not allow for the extradition of its nationals to be tried overseas.

More than three months later, the bottle was found by a local man, 48-year-old Charlie Rowley.

Pierce acknowledged the two suspects, who flew back to Russia shortly after the attack, can not be extradited under the Russian constitution.

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