Vladimir Putin says Russian Federation identified suspects in Novichok poisoning

Cheryl Sanders
September 12, 2018

The British government has said Putin is ultimately responsible for the attack, a claim the Kremlin has furiously denied.

Mr Skripal and his daughter Yulia were left in comas for weeks after being exposed to the nerve agent Novichok, while Dawn Sturgess later died and Charlie Rowley was left in a critical condition after they too came into contact with the substance in nearby Amesbury.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that the two men accused by the United Kingdom of attempting to murder a former Russian double agent and his daughter are not criminals and have been identified as civilians.

After the poisoning, Britain and more than two dozen other countries expelled a total of 150 Russian spies working under diplomatic cover.

"I would like to call on them so that they can hear us today", he said.

Prime Minister Theresa May said intelligence showed the poisonings were state-sponsored by Russian Federation.

"They are civilians, of course", Putin said, contradicting the British government's assertion that they are officers of Russia's military intelligence agency, known as the GRU.

He added, "There is nothing special or criminal about it, I can assure you".

British officials earlier this month charged the two men in absentia with the attempted murder with novichok of Sergei Skripal, as well as his daughter and a policeman who investigated the scene.

Prime Minister Theresa May told MPs last week it was "not a rogue operation".

Citing the GRU's reputation for strict discipline and hierarchy, May said of the attack on the Skripals, "It was nearly certainly also approved outside the GRU, at a senior level of the Russian state".

They did a reconnaissance mission to Salisbury the following day before returning with poison concealed in a fake Nina Ricci perfume bottle.

Mr Skripal and Yulia were poisoned in the city of Salisbury in March. Scotland Yard released photos of the two men, who flew from the U.K.to Moscow hours after the Skripals fell ill.

Prosecutors deem it futile to apply to Russian Federation for the extradition of the two men, since Moscow does not extradite its own citizens, but a European Arrest Warrant has been obtained and the authorities are also seeking the assistance of Interpol.

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