UK says Russia's Putin is ultimately responsible for Novichok attack


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

Russia claimed that there was nothing new in the UK's allegations and criticised the UK's account as a means to "unleash a disgusting anti-Russian hysteria".

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the names and images of the suspects released by Britain "say nothing to us".

The US, Canada, France and Germany on Thursday issued a statement supporting the analysis that two Russian agents were responsible for the poisoning.

Mr Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in March by the nerve agent Novichok.

The US ambassador to London, Woody Johnson, and the Australian government have offered their support for Britain's stance against Russian Federation.

The head of GCHQ has said the UK's allies would "reject the Kremlin's brazen determination to undermine the global rules-based order". Police released two images of the men.

The UK and its allies would, the prime minister said, "deploy the full range of tools from across our national security apparatus in order to counter the threat posed by the GRU".

"It is likely that they were travelling under aliases and that these are not their real names", he said.

Russia's United Nations ambassador is accusing Britain of producing an "unfounded and mendacious cocktail of facts" and refusing to cooperate on the investigation of a poisoned ex-Russian spy for one objective - "to unleash a disgusting anti-Russian hysteria and to involve other countries in this hysteria".

Prosecutor Sue Hemming said the not asking Moscow to extradite the men because Russian law forbids extradition of the country's citizens.

The intelligence expert added the odds of the two men being extradited out of Russian Federation are none.

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But assistant commissioner Neil Basu, head of counterterrorism at London's Metropolitan Police, conceded it was "very, very unlikely" police would be in a position to arrest them any time soon. But if so, why are they not being made public?

"The recklessness of the Russian state in bringing a nerve agent into the United Kingdom, and total disregard for the safety of the public, is appalling and irresponsible", said Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, after the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons confirmed on September 4 that novichok was used in all the poisonings. They visited Salisbury that Saturday in what police said they were satisfied was a reconnaissance trip.

British authorities and the worldwide chemical weapons watchdog say the victims were exposed to Novichok, a type of military-grade nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

The Skripals were found unconcious on a park bench in March in the British town of Salisbury in Wiltshire near Stonehenge.

They left Salisbury less than two hours later and arrived back in London at eight o'clock that night.

A RUSSIAN spy wanted for the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal reportedly had visited Britain nearly exactly one year before the Novichok attack in Salisbury.

They are also charged with use and possession of Novichok, contrary to the Chemical Weapons Act.

Media captionWhat do we know about the Russian intelligence organisation, the GRU? He was freed in a 2010 spy swap and settled in the UK.

The Skripals recovered, as did a British policeman who fell ill after working on the case.

But 44-year old British woman Dawn Sturgess, who later came into contact with the same military grade agent, died. Her boyfriend Charlie Rowley also became seriously ill during that incident, and police officer Nicholas Bailey was hospitalised by exposure to the Skripals at the time of the first incident.

Her partner Charlie Rowley had found a perfume bottle, falsely labelled as "Premier Jour" by Nina Ricci, which police said contained a "significant amount of Novichok".