Spy chief says Britain, allies will counter active Russian threat

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

Britain deepened its diplomatic feud with Moscow today, charging two men it says are Russian military intelligence officers with the nerve-agent poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a double agent who betrayed the service by spying for the West.

Police identified them as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov.

Prime Minister Theresa May has previously said the attack was "almost certainly" approved at a "senior level" of the Russian state, while Security Minister Ben Wallace said Mr Putin bore ultimate responsibility as head of the government in Moscow.

She said that during 2008-2015 hundreds of Russian citizens, which the activist called "a country with a high level of corruption", received visas investors without proper verification of capital.

British police released CCTV images of two Russian men they said flew in to Britain for a weekend to commit murder.

Russian officials have said they don't recognize the suspects - whose names are believed to be aliases - and Peskov said Russia "has no reasons" to investigate them because Britain had not asked for legal assistance in the case.

Authorities in the United Kingdom are not applying to Russian Federation for the extradition of the two suspects as London does not have extradition agreements with Moscow, the BBC said on Wednesday.

A deadly Soviet-era nerve agent called novichok allegedly was smeared or sprayed onto the door handle of Skripal's home in Salisbury.

The suspects made two trips to Salisbury before flying back to Moscow from Heathrow Airport on the evening of March 4, hours after the Skripals were poisoned, police said.

Police also released an image of a counterfeit perfume bottle after tests found it contained a "significant amount" of Novichok.

Three days later he got some of the contents on himself, while Ms Sturgess applied some of the substance to her wrists.

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Basu said the manner in which the bottle and packaging was adapted makes it a "perfect cover" for smuggling the weapon into the country.

Assistant police commissioner Neil Basu would not say whether police believe the suspects worked for Russian security services but, he said, "This was a sophisticated attack across borders".

Officials plan to update members on the progress of the investigation at the meeting.

"They should be limited in scope and scalability, supported by modern legislation and with strong oversight to maintain public confidence".

The CPS said the pair faced charges of conspiracy to murder Skripal, and the attempted murder of him, his daughter and Nick Bailey, a policeman injured in the attack.

Skripal and his 33-year-old daughter Yulia were found unconscious on a bench in Salisbury, 145 kilometres southwest of London, on March 4.

Mr Bailey, who was involved in searching Mr Skripal's home after the attack, was left seriously unwell. They spent weeks hospitalised in critical condition and are now recovering in a secret location for their own protection.

British prosecutors have charged the two men with the attack on the Skripals, but acknowledge that Russian Federation will not extradite them.

Inconspicuously labeled as "Nina Ricci Premier Jour" and bearing the words "Made in France", the bottle had been specially created to be leakproof and had a custom applicator, UK Metropolitan police said.

Russia's Foreign Ministry spokesman says Moscow has no knowledge of the suspects named in the poisoning of a former Russian agent in Britain.

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