The UK government has named two Russian military intelligence officers as those being responsible for carrying out the nerve agent attack in the town of Salisbury earlier this year.
In a special statement to the House of Commons, Prime Minister Theresa May revealed the two suspects flew into Britain to murder former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal who lived in the town of Salisbury. She also said ‘novichok’ which was a military grade nerve agent was planted by the two who were officers in the GRU, Russian military intelligence.
“The GRU is a highly disciplined organisation with a well-established chain of command. So this was not a rogue operation. It was almost certainly also approved outside the GRU at a senior level of the Russian state,” she said.
The two suspects were named by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, neither of whom is in the United Kingdom.
"Prosecutors from CPS Counter Terrorism Division have considered the evidence and have concluded there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction and it is clearly in the public interest to charge Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov ... with conspiracy to murder Sergei Skripal and the attempted murder of Skripal, his daughter Yulia, and police officer Nick Bailey," a CPS statement said.
Britain’s most senior counter-terrorism officer, assistant commissioner Neil Basu, laid out a detailed trail showing how the suspects travelled from Moscow to London and then on to Salisbury, featuring numerous CCTV images and supporting detail.
The two Russian nationals are believed to have been traveling under aliases, although they had genuine Russian passports with the identities of Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov.
Basu said the pair entered Britain 48 hours before the assassination attempt and showed CCTV footage of the Russian assassination team during their visit which lasted just over 50 hours.
The pair are also charged with the use and possession of the nerve agent Novichok contrary to the Chemical Weapons Act and causing grievous bodily harm with intent to Yulia Skripal and Nick Bailey.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova dismissed the latest claims. "A link with Russia is being alleged. The names published in the media, like the photos, do not tell us anything," she said.