Russian Federation has been spying on Skripals for five years, security adviser says

14 April, 2018, 22:18 | Author: Angel Logan
  • Britain Has Set Out Its Most Detailed Explanation Yet For Why It Believes Russia Is Responsible For The Salisbury Poisoning

He said Russian Federation had a "proven record of conducting state-sponsored assassination" and that it was "highly likely" some defectors - like Mr Skripal, a former GRU officer who was exchanged in a spy swap in 2010 - may be regarded as "legitimate targets".

Russia had spied on ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter for at least five years before the poison attack that put them both in critical condition, the U.K.'s national security advisor said Friday.

Investigators at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons confirmed British findings that the Skripals were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent but didn't say who was responsible.

Moscow has hit back by expelling Western diplomats, questioning how Britain knows that Russian Federation was responsible and suggesting it stemmed from a plot by British secret services.

He made the assertion in a letter to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg today explaining Britain's conclusion the Russian government was to blame for the poisoning.

Sedwill said "credible open-source reporting and intelligence" showed that in the 1980s the Soviet Union developed a family of nerve agents known as Novichoks at a base in Shikhany near Volgograd.

The codeword for the offensive chemical weapons programme (of which Novichoks were one part) was FOLIANT.

"It is highly likely that Novichoks were developed to prevent detection by the West and to circumvent worldwide chemical weapons controls", he said.

National Security Security Adviser Sir Mark Seawall said Vladimir Putin's spies have trained to use nerve agents such as Novichok since the 2000s.

The ambassador said London's approach to the high-profile case followed a pattern of crimes, in which the United Kingdom chose to classify details from the public and ignore Russia's request to disclose them.

In his letter, Sir Mark argued that only Russian Federation had the "technical means, operational experience and the motive" to carry out such an attack.

He said Russian Federation had a proven record of state-sponsored assassinations and had tested ways of delivering chemical weapons, including the use of door handles to spread nerve agents, as Britain believes was done in the Skripal case.

Sir Mark said Russian Federation had a "proven record of conducting state-sponsored assassination" and that it was "highly likely" some defectors may be regarded as "legitimate targets". "Within the last decade, Russian Federation has produced and stockpiled small quantities of novichok under the same program".

Yulia Skripal, 33, has been released from the hospital.

Speaking on Friday, Sergey Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister, said the OPCW report offers nothing to support Britain's claims that Russia was behind the attack.

Finally, on the motive, Sedwill said Sergei Skripal was a former Russian military intelligence (GRU) officer, convicted of espionage in 2004.

It was "highly likely that the Russian intelligence services view at least some of its defectors as legitimate targets for assassination", Mr Sedwill said in the letter.

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