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5 Sep, 2018 12:00

British PM says two suspects in Skripals poisoning case are Russian military intelligence officers

British PM says two suspects in Skripals poisoning case are Russian military intelligence officers

British Prime Minister Theresa May claimed that the two men suspected of carrying out the poisoning attack in Salisbury were officers of the Russian military intelligence agency GRU, citing classified intelligence.

Speaking to Parliament on Wednesday, May reiterated her previous accusation that the Russian government was involved in the Skripal poisoning case. “We were right to say in March that the Russian state is responsible,” she said. 

While British police investigators said earlier they had no evidence linking the Russian government with the suspects, May insisted that British intelligence services provided evidence, which identifies them as officers of Russian military intelligence, the GRU. She said she would update party leaders on why her government came to that conclusion behind closed doors.

"Based on the body of intelligence, the government has concluded that the two individuals named by the police and the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) are officers from the Russian military intelligence service also known as the GRU," May said.

May said that such an operation would require authorization, at a high level, from the Russian government.

When asked what possible motive the Kremlin may have had in ordering the attack, May suggested that it was probably meant to send “a message to those Russians who were living elsewhere who had been involved in matters relating to the Russian state.” She said that it was up to Russia to explain itself.

May stated that if the two individuals ever travel outside of Russia, the UK would act to have them arrested and extradited to be tried on British soil.

She reiterated that her government will continue putting pressure on Russia, exposing what she called a “pattern of malign activity, with particular focus on the GRU.

Sergei Skripal, a former double agent living in the UK after a spy exchange with Russia, and his daughter fell ill in March in Salisbury. The British government accused Moscow of carrying out the attack on them, claiming the poison used was Novichok - developed in the Soviet Union.

The UK’s PM argued that only the Russian government had the means and the motive to try to kill the Skripals. London refused to cooperate with Moscow in any way during the investigation and instead rallied its allies to expel Russian diplomats. Russia denied any involvement in the poisoning and said the British stonewalling of Russian requests for information was suspicious and may indicate that British intelligence services orchestrated a false flag attack.

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