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British Security Minister Says Putin 'Ultimately Responsible' For Skripal Poisoning

RFE/RL September 06, 2018

Russian President Vladimir Putin bears ultimate responsibility for the nerve-agent poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in England in March, Britain's security minister says.

Ben Wallace said on September 6 that Putin "controls, funds, and directs" Russian military intelligence, known as the GRU, which Britain has accused of using the Novichok nerve agent against former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in March.

Both survived the attack and are reportedly recovering at a secret location.

Asked whether Putin bears responsible for the attack, Wallace told the BBC: "Ultimately, he does insofar as he is president of the Russian Federation and it is his government that controls, funds, and directs the military intelligence."

"I don't think anyone can ever say that Mr. Putin isn't in control of his state," Wallace added. "And the GRU is, without doubt, not rogue."

A British citizen, Dawn Sturgess, died in June and her boyfriend, Charlie Rowley, was made ill when they stumbled across remnants of the poison.

Russia has denied any involvement in the poisoning and has said it is willing to cooperate with the investigation.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in Moscow on September 6 that assertions the Kremlin was responsible for the attack were "unacceptable."

"We have said more than once and can confirm officially once again that Russia has had nothing to do with the events in Salisbury," Peskov said, referring to the English city where the Skripals were poisoned. "Russia is not involved in any way."

On September 5, Britain filed charges in absentia against two Russian citizens who were identified as Aleksandr Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, although it is believed those names are aliases. The two men were believed to be agents of the GRU.

Peskov also said that Russia was prepared to check information about the two suspects if it received a formal request from the United Kingdom.

Prime Minister Theresa May told Parliament on September 5 that the attack had been approved "at a senior level of the Russian state."

She added that the attack was meant "to give a message to those Russians who were living elsewhere who had been involved in matters related to the Russian state."

Wallace told the BBC that Britain intends to "push back the Russian malign activity" with "whatever means we have within the law and our capabilities."

The United Kingdom will brief the UN Security Council on its findings later on September 6.

With reporting by AP and Reuters

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/un-council -hear-british-charges-against-russian-over-ex- spy-poisoning-skripal-novichok/29474669.html

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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