Russian Federation has identified suspects in UK Novichok poisoning, Putin says

Russian Federation has identified suspects in UK Novichok poisoning, Putin says

British prosecutors last week identified two Russians they said were operating under aliases - Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov - whom they accused of trying to murder the Skripals with a military-grade nerve agent in England. 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.

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.

Britain and dozens of other countries kicked out scores of Russian diplomats over the poisoning of the Skripals, and Moscow responded tit-for-tat with an identical number of expulsions.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said the attack was carried out by officers of the GRU and nearly certainly approved "at a senior level of the Russian state". "They are just ordinary civilians", Putin told a session at an economic forum in Vladivostok broadcast on state TV. 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.

The Russian president denied they worked for the military and described them as "civilians". "They will come somewhere, to you, the mass media". Scotland Yard released photos of the two men, who flew from the U.K.to Moscow hours after the Skripals fell ill. She later walked back that statement, expressing frustration that British authorities had not shared the files with their Russian counterparts, leaving Moscow "guessing" about what really happened in Salisbury.

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The suspects fled to Russian Federation, who won't extradite them, but they would be arrested if they entered any European Union country.

"Of course, we've looked into who these people are".

Police said Ms Sturgess and Mr Rowley were later exposed to Novichok after handling a contaminated container, labelled as Nina Ricci Premier Jour perfume. The men were spotted on numerous security and surveillance cameras as they moved between the two cities.

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

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