UK: Government to face Russia at UN spy case briefing
UK officials will face their Russian counterparts later as they brief the UN Security Council on two men suspected of the Salisbury nerve agent attack.
Prosecutors say there is evidence to charge the pair, who the PM said are thought to be officers from Russia’s military intelligence service the GRU.
Ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were poisoned with Novichok on 4 March.
Moscow denies any involvement in the attack.
Theresa May told the Commons on Wednesday the suspects entered the UK on Russian passports using the names Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov.
She said the poisoning was “not a rogue operation” and was “almost certainly” approved at a senior level of the Russian state.
Security Minister Ben Wallace told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that “ultimately, of course” Russian President Vladimir Putin was responsible for the attack.
Det Sgt Nick Bailey also fell ill after responding to the incident in Salisbury.
Police linked the attack to a separate Novichok poisoning on 30 June, which led to the death of Dawn Sturgess.
Britain called Thursday’s meeting of the UN Security Council a day after Theresa May addressed MPs about the suspects.
Russia is a permanent member of the Security Council and will be represented at the meeting alongside UK allies the US and France.
Mr Wallace said the UK must use the meeting to “maintain the pressure, to say the behaviour we have seen is totally unacceptable”.
BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera said that alongside the meeting, it was thought there would be less visible activity, including covert work by British intelligence to disrupt the GRU.
Mrs May has also said Britain will push for the EU to agree new sanctions against Russia.
Ahead of the UN meeting, Australia said it was “in lock step with the UK on the importance of holding Russia to account” over the “dangerous and deliberate act”.
The CPS is not applying to Russia for the extradition of the two men, as Russia does not extradite its own nationals.
But a European Arrest Warrant has been obtained in case the pair travel to the EU.
Responding to the naming of the suspects, Russia’s London embassy called on the British government to “give up politicised public accusations”.
The embassy accused the UK authorities of being unwilling to engage with them, by providing additional information about the suspects such as their passport numbers.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy adviser Yuri Ushakov told reporters the names of the Russian suspects “do not mean anything to me”.