Putin: Russia knows real identities of suspects in United Kingdom poisoning case

Erika Holt
September 15, 2018

Russia's Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that two men Britain suspects of poisoning former spy Sergei Skripal with military-grade nerve agent had been identified as "civilians" and were not criminals.

The Government said it stood by its assertion that Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov were officers in Russian military intelligence service the GRU after Mr Putin described them as "civilians". Russia's GRU military intelligence service, which has agents across the globe and reports to the chief of general staff and the defence minister, does not have a website and does not comment publicly on its actions.

A 44-year-old British national, Dawn Sturgess, died in July from exposure to what police say was the same nerve agent that afflicted the Skripals, in a town just north of Salisbury.

Britain's allies have backed it over the case, with the United States and other European countries expelling hundreds of Russian diplomats suspected of being spies.

"The GRU is a highly disciplined organization with a well-established chain of command, so this was not a rogue operation, it was nearly certainly also approved outside the GRU at a senior level of the Russian state", she said in a statement to the House of Commons last week. Weeks later, Putin said there were Russian troops present there under a treaty with Ukraine that allowed Russia to leave a naval base in Crimea. "And with the new software they have, you can tell the person by the way they walk, or a ring they wear, or a watch they wear". Russian Federation kicked out a similar number of those countries' envoys. Although Novichok is said to be extremely lethal, the Skripals survived, and Russian authorities even questioned why British officials put down the Skripals' pets.

Estimates have it that Britain sports one security camera per 11 citizens, making it one of the most heavily surveilled nations on the planet.

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"We of course checked who these people are".

They said they would not formally demand the men's extradition, as Russian Federation does not extradite its citizens, but have obtained a European Arrest Warrant for the pair.

She claimed that Petrov was not in Britain around the time of the poisoning but did not elaborate on how she knew that.

The case has strong echoes of the poisoning of ex-Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko in Britain in 2006.

Associated Press writer Jim Heintz in Moscow and Jill Lawless in London contributed.

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