Salisbury attack approved at senior level in Moscow, says May

The two suspects caught on CCTV while standing at Salisbury railway station at 16:11hrs on 03 March 2018  Metropolitan Police Handout

The two suspects caught on CCTV while standing at Salisbury railway station at 16:11hrs on 03 March 2018 Metropolitan Police Handout

Former GRU officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were left critically ill after being exposed to the military grade nerve agent Novichok in March.

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

The Prime Minister told MPs investigations have concluded that the two suspects are members of the GRU, Russia's military intelligence service, and it was not a "rogue operation".

The men, who entered the United Kingdom under the names Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, are being charged in absentia with conspiracy to murder, attempted murder and use of the nerve agent Novichok, prosecutors said.

Earlier in the United Kingdom found that the assassination of former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Julia in Salisbury with the use of poison the Newcomer involved in the Russian Grushnikov Ruslan Bashirov and Alexander Petrov.

He described it as a "very well-disciplined organisation" which would "only act with orders from the highest level of the Russian government".

Ms. May said the attack "was not a rogue operation" and was nearly certainly approved at a "senior level of the Russian state".

The meeting started shortly after the release of a joint statement by the leaders of the UK, US, France, Germany and Canada in which they expressed "full confidence" in the British assessment that the suspected hit-team were members of the GRU and the operation was sanction at a "senior government level".

The motive for attacking Skripal, who was exchanged in a Kremlin-approved spy swap in 2010, is still unclear, as is the motive for using an exotic nerve agent, Novichok, which has such clear links to Russia's Soviet past.

Sergei Skripal and his daughter were admitted to a hospital after being found unconscious on March 4 in Salisbury.

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The Kremlin has denied any involvement in the Salisbury poisoning and says Russian Federation is not investigating the two named suspects.

Britain, France, Germany, Canada and the United States pledged on Thursday to work to disrupt "the hostile activities of foreign intelligence networks" and called on Russian Federation to disclose its nerve agent programme.

The footage of the pair in Salisbury was reportedly filmed minutes after they allegedly smeared novichok on the front door of Mr Skripal's house on 4 March.

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.

"First, with respect to the two individuals, as the Crown Prosecution Service and police announced earlier today, we have obtained a European Arrest Warrant and will shortly issue an Interpol red notice".

Police say Petrov and Boshirov, both about 40, flew from Moscow to London on Russian passports two days before the Skripals were poisoned.

In the second incident, Dawn Sturgess, 44, and her partner Charlie Rowley, 45, were exposed to the same nerve agent used in Salisbury.

The British government has said Russian President Vladimir Putin is ultimately responsible for the attack, something Moscow has strongly denied.

Russia's top security officials routinely speak of active attempts by the CIA and other Western agencies to recruit Russians.

A British woman, Dawn Sturgess, died in July after coming across a small bottle containing Novichok in a town near Salisbury where the Skripals were struck down. The names of the two men "do not mean anything to us", RIA cited the Foreign Ministry as saying.

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