Nerve agent attackers were Russian spies, reveals May

Metropolitan PoliceA surveillance image shows both suspects at Salisbury train station at 4:11

Two days later, police say they sprayed the nerve agent, Novichok, on the front door of Mr Skripal's home in the Wiltshire city of Salisbury, before travelling home to Russian Federation later that day.

The Russian foreign ministry said Wednesday that it did not recognize the names Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov.

Calling the poisoning a "sickening and despicable" attack, Javid said it was "unequivocally, crystal-clear this was the act of the Russian state - two Russian nationals sent to Britain with the sole objective of carrying out a reckless assassination attempt".

A European arrest warrant has been issued for the two Russians, British prosecutors said, but Britain will not ask Moscow to extradite them because Russia's constitution does not allow its citizens to be extradited.

Addressing the council, Britain's ambassador to the UN Karen Pierce, said the nerve agent attack was a "direct challenge" to the "rules-based worldwide system that has kept all of us safe since 1945".

Police identified them as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov.

"The GRU is a highly disciplined organisation with a well-established chain of command".

Prime Minister Theresa May was adamant that this attack was not carried out by "rogue" GRU operatives.

Ms. May said the attack "was not a rogue operation" and was nearly certainly approved at a "senior level of the Russian state".

"Since then around 250 detectives have trawled through more than 11,000 hours of CCTV and taken more than 1,400 statements".

Members of the emergency services help each other to remove their protective suits at the site of the grave of Luidmila Skripal, wife of former Russian inteligence officer Sergei Skripal, at London Road Cemetery in Salisbury, Britain, March 10, 2018.

Skripal's 90-year-old mother needed to hear from the former agent, she said.

While the Skripals were critically injured but ultimately survived the attack, two Salisbury locals who found the perfume bottle in June, Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley, were also badly injured. The death of Sturgess and the poisoning of Rowley came later, in July.

The police force released a series of images of the suspects as they travelled through London and Salisbury between March 2 and March 4.

Assistant police commissioner Neil Basu would not say whether police believe the suspects worked for Russian security services but, he said, "This was a sophisticated attack across borders".

Finally, the police provided CCTV showing the men departing Heathrow Airport at 10.30pm on a Moscow-bound flight on March 4.

Police say it's believed the pair sprayed Sergei Skripal's doorknob with the nerve agent from a small perfume bottle.

A British man, Charlie Rowley, picked up the bottle and gave it as a gift to his girlfriend, Dawn Sturgess.

Basu would not comment on whether the Skripals had faced threats before the attack or where they were now located. Traces of Novichok contamination were found in the London hotel room where the two men had stayed, he said, adding this was not a public health concern.

British prosecutors accuse Petrov and Boshirov of conspiracy to murder Skripal, attempted murder and the use of a banned chemical weapon.

Theresa May did not explicitly blame Putin for authorising the attempted assassination, which resulted in the death of a British woman, when she addressed the Commons in a special statement on Monday, although she pointed the finger at the Kremlin.

Russian officials have previously questioned why Russia would want to attack an ageing turncoat who was pardoned and swapped in a Kremlin-approved 2010 spy swap.

Mr Javid stopped short of naming President Vladimir Putin as being behind the orders but said "we all know what's at the top of the Russian government".

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