Salisbury Novichok attack: Putin responsible: minister
International

Salisbury Novichok attack: Putin responsible: minister

London, Sep 6 (UNI) Vladimir Putin must take responsibility for the Salisbury Novichok attack, UK's Security Minister Ben Wallace has said.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Wallace said that "ultimately, of course" the Russian president was behind the poisoning. Ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were poisoned with Novichok on 4 March.

UK officials will on Thursday brief the UN Security Council on two men suspected of carrying out the attack.Prosecutors say there is evidence to charge the pair, who the prime minister said are thought to be officers from Russia's military intelligence service the GRU.

Mr Wallace said Mr Putin's government "controls, funds and directs the military intelligence - that's the GRU", adding that nobody could say the Russian leader was "not in control of his state".Moscow denies any involvement in the attack.

Theresa May told the Commons on Wednesday that the suspects had 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.

Det Sgt Nick Bailey also fell ill after responding to the incident in Salisbury.And police have 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 Mrs May addressed MPs about the suspects.

Russia is a permanent member of the council and will be represented 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".

And 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".Mr Putin's foreign policy adviser Yuri Ushakov said the names of the Russian suspects "do not mean anything to me".Responding to the fresh accusations, the Kremlin's media machine resorted to its usual tactic: a combination of denials and sarcasm.

"Don't laugh," said a talk-show host on state TV, delivering the latest news from London.The foreign ministry's spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, put in an appearance herself to accuse the UK of fabricating the Skripal case. "This whole story was created to punish Russia... to introduce sanctions," she said on Rossiya 1 TV.

"A detective story" and "an absurd political thriller" were some of the epithets used by Russian news bulletins, which also claimed that Britain's allegations were not backed up by a shred of evidence.At the same time, they dismissed the suspects' photographs released by London as crude fakery."Put evidence on the table or go to hell," said one commentator on Russian state TV.

The CPS is not applying to Russia for the extradition of the two men, as Russia does not extradite its nationals.But a European Arrest Warrant has been obtained in case the pair travel to the EU.UNI