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21 Sep, 2021 15:15

UK says it will take all possible steps to extradite Skripal suspects, as Moscow claims London shifting blame for 'Novichok' case

UK says it will take all possible steps to extradite Skripal suspects, as Moscow claims London shifting blame for 'Novichok' case

Britain will use all diplomatic tools at its disposal to extradite three Russian men it claims are responsible for the poisoning of Sergey and Yulia Skripal, should they ever travel outside their home country, London has said.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Tuesday, after prosecutors announced they had charged a third suspect over the 2018 incident, Home Secretary Priti Patel said that the government will be "relentless" in pursuing the trio. "Should any of these individuals ever travel outside Russia we will work with our international partners and take every possible step to detain them and extradite them to face justice," she said.

Earlier that day, police said they wanted to bring a case against a man who travelled to the UK under the name Sergey Fedotov for conspiracy to murder, attempted murder, causing grievous bodily harm, and the use and possession of a chemical weapon. Fedotov had been added to the wanted list in addition to two other Russian nationals, known as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, who investigators claim are military intelligence agents who were sent to kill Skripal.

Also on rt.com British cops charge third Russian national over dramatic alleged 2018 Salisbury poisoning of spy Skripal & point finger at GRU

In March 2018, the city of Salisbury, around 80 miles southeast of London, went into lockdown after reports that a deadly Soviet-era nerve agent, Novichok, had been smeared on the handle of Skripal's front door. A former member of Russian military intelligence, he served as a double agent for the UK's intelligence services during the 1990s and 2000s, before moving to Britain in 2010 under a spy swap deal. He and his daughter, Yulia, were found on a park bench having been taken ill, and were admitted to hospital.

Police officer Nick Bailey, who was sent to investigate the Skripals' house, was also hospitalized. Another woman, Dawn Sturgess, later died after reportedly finding a perfume bottle containing the supposed nerve agent and spraying it on herself.

Russia has consistently rejected allegations that there was a state-sponsored effort to kill the Skripals. Responding to the news later on Tuesday, Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that "it has been a long time since we dealt with this subject, and I'm not sure why it is resurfacing now," suggesting the allegations are part of a wider geopolitical play.

"For more than two years now, the British authorities have been using the Salisbury incident to deliberately complicate our bilateral relations," she said. "We strongly condemn all attempts by London to blame Moscow for what happened in Salisbury and insist on a professional, objective and impartial investigation of the incident."

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"Despite numerous requests from the Russian side and appeals for a responsible joint investigation, London continues to refuse proper discussions or a shared inquiry into this incident, as a result of which, I recall, Russian citizens have suffered," Zakharova added.

The UK's foreign policy chiefs summoned the Minister-Counselor of the Russian Embassy to a meeting on Tuesday in order to discuss the charges against the three Russian men. In comments after the meeting, Moscow's envoys said that it was entirely unfounded to assess that a Russian citizen was involved in the case because of when they entered the UK.

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