London: Britain charged two Russians, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, on Wednesday with the attempted murder of a former Russian spy and his daughter, describing the suspects as military intelligence officers almost certainly acting on behalf of the Russian state. British police revealed ../images of the two men they said had flown to Britain for a weekend in March to kill former spy Sergei Skripal with Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent.
Skripal’s daughter Yulia and a police officer who attended the scene also fell ill in the case, which has caused the biggest East-West diplomatic expulsions since the Cold War. A woman later died from Novichok poisoning after her husband brought home a contaminated bottle of counterfeit perfume. Prime Minister Theresa May lay the blame with the Russian, describing the suspects as officers in Russia’s GRU military intelligence. Skripal, a former GRU officer who betrayed agents to UK’s MI6 foreign spy service, was found unconscious with Yulia in Salisbury on March 4.
This means nothing to us, Russia says
Russia’s foreign ministry said the names given by Britain ‘did not mean anything to Moscow’, which has denied any involvement in the attack. Britain and other countries have kicked out scores of Russian diplomats over the incident, and Moscow has responded tit-for-tat with an identical number of expulsions. A European arrest warrant has been issued for the two, but Britain will not ask Moscow to send them to face trial, because Russia’s constitution does not allow its citizens to be extradited, British prosecutors said.
A rogue operation
The GRU is a highly disciplined organisation with a well-established chain of command, so this was not a rogue operation. It was almost certainly also approved outside the GRU at a senior level of the Russian state.