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‘You have to prove Putin was involved’: Met Police push back against UK blame game in Skripal saga

‘You have to prove Putin was involved’: Met Police push back against UK blame game in Skripal saga
A year and a half since the Salisbury poisoning, the UK appears to be left with egg on its face after Scotland Yard admitted it is impossible to build a criminal case due to a lack of evidence.

The Metropolitan Police scrutinized claims that an order to target former double agent Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia came from the top echelons of the Russian government.

“You’d have to prove he [Putin] was directly involved,” Neil Basu, head of UK counter-terrorism policing, was cited as saying by the Guardian.

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Going further, he seemed to have pushed back against British government attempts to single out Russia as the only suspect in the high-profile incident.

“We’re police officers, so we have to go for evidence. There has been a huge amount of speculation about who is responsible, who gave the orders, all based on people’s expert knowledge of Russia. I have to go with evidence.”

Right from the start of the whole affair, the UK government and mainstream media proclaimed that it was the work of Russian military intelligence agency, the GRU. As the plot thickened, London claimed the two Russians, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, were sent to use a military-grade nerve agent called ‘Novichok’ on the Skripals.

Later, the UK issued a European arrest warrant (EAW) and an Interpol “red notice” for both men, but implementing them would be no easy task, Basu explained: “In order to get an EAW, you have to have a case capable of being charged in this country. We haven’t got a case capable of being charged.”

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Although the lingering investigation produced no tangible results so far, it didn’t stop the UK government from slapping Moscow with sweeping sanctions and downgrading political ties. Other Western nations, most notably the US, followed suit, embarking on a war of words, ordering diplomatic expulsions and economic restrictions.

However, it didn’t help bring the world closer to solving the Salisbury puzzle. “It shows their need to find a culprit for this tragedy, but it also shows their weakness in trying to pinpoint who was actually responsible,” commented Klisman Murati, political analyst and director of the London-based Pangaea Wire consultancy.

“They’re stuck between a rock and a hard place in trying to explain themselves with only inferences and expert opinion guiding their finger towards Putin and the Russian government.”

Calling the poisoning “an undercover operation,” he told RT that it will be “very hard to connect the dots to really prove who did this in the first place.”

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