Published: Mon, September 10, 2018
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Russian Federation poses active threat, warns United Kingdom spy chief

Russian Federation poses active threat, warns United Kingdom spy chief

Britain deepened its diplomatic feud with Moscow today, charging two men it says are Russian military intelligence officers with the nerve-agent poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a double agent who betrayed the service by spying for the West.

British police have published a series of surveillance images tracking the movements of two alleged Russian agents who authorities say traveled to England to execute a nerve-agent attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter.

The council will meet in open session at around 11:30 am (1530 GMT), diplomats said.

Although the suspects had been identified as GRU agents Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov and arrest warrants had been issued, "the reality is we will probably never see them in the UK" because they were unlikely to leave Russian Federation again, Mr Javid acknowledged.

The CPS said there was sufficient evidence to charge Petrov and Boshirov with: conspiracy to murder Mr Skripal; attempted murder of Mr Skripal, Ms Skripal and Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey; use and possession of Novichok contrary to the Chemical Weapons Act; and causing grievous bodily harm with intent to Ms Skripal and Mr Bailey.

Asked whether President Putin bears responsibility, Ben Wallace told BBC radio: "Ultimately he does in so far as he is the president of the Russian Federation and it is his government that controls, funds and directs the military intelligence". Even as the United Kingdom released more information regarding the culpability of the Russian government in an attack involving a nerve agent only it possesses, Moscow continued its longstanding approach of denial and deflection.

Britain, France, Germany, Canada and the United States pledged on Thursday to work to disrupt "the hostile activities of foreign intelligence networks" and called on Russian Federation to disclose its nerve agent programme.

The Skripals survived the attack but only after being hospitalized for weeks in critical condition.

In a speech in Washington on Thursday, Jeremy Fleming, Director of the GCHQ eavesdropping intelligence agency, said his staff had helped the "painstaking and highly complex investigation" into identifying those responsible for the Salisbury poisonings and action would now be taken.

Relations between Canada and Russian Federation have not been spared, with the two countries involved in various wars of words and tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions - including one round in March that was in direct response to the Salisbury attack.

They are thought to have been using the names as aliases and are about 40.

One of them, 44-year-old mother of three Dawn Sturgess, died on July 8.

Police say the two men flew back to Moscow from Heathrow Airport on the evening of March 4, hours after the Skripals were found collapsed on a park bench in Salisbury.

She is expected to speak to other leaders over the next few days as she seeks to forge an global alliance for further action against Russian Federation.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said it would not apply for their extradition, as Russian Federation had made clear in previous cases that it did not extradite its nationals.

The Metropolitan Police continue a murder investigation into the death of Sturgess.

While the motive for the attack on Skripal, who was exchanged in a Kremlin-approved spy swap in 2010, remains unclear, some analysts point to its function as a deterrent for Russian operatives who may have been thinking about colluding with foreign intelligence against Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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