British prosecutors to charge two Russians in United Kingdom nerve agent attack

Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov who are formally accused of attempting to murder former Russian intelligence officer Se

The U.K. charged two Russian nationals over the attempted murder of a former spy and the use of a Novichok nerve agent on British soil, a move that will further sour ties with the Kremlin.

"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.

While UK officials have blamed the Russian government for the poisoning, Basu refused to disclose whether police believed the suspects worked for Russia's intelligence services, saying that "this was a sophisticated attack across borders".

She said that the GRU is a highly disciplined organisation with a well-established chain of command and that Petrov's and Boshirov's mission was likely approved at a senior level of the Russian state.

"Every Russian intelligence service makes uses of freelance agents in its operations, including those carried out overseas", said Mark Galeotti, an expert on Russia's intelligence and security agencies.

"It was also nearly certainly approved outside the GRU at a high level of the Russian state". It has also focused increasing attention on the activities of the GRU, which traces its roots back to the Russian revolution and has been linked to a series of nefarious activities including interfering in the 2016 US elections, meddling in Ukraine and planning a failed coup in Montenegro.

The Skripals were found collapsed on a bench in the cathedral city of Salisbury, about 140 kilometres southwest of London.

He said: "As in the killing of former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko in 2006, Russian officers - this time working for Russian military intelligence, the GRU - flew into Britain on an Aeroflot flight under aliases days before the attack".

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Police said they were still not absolutely certain that the bottle found by Rowley was the bottle used to apply Novichok to Sergei Skripal's front door.

Russia's Foreign Ministry said Thursday, after the charges were announced, that the two names given by the British authorities, "do not mean anything to us", according to Russian state-run news agency RIA. "They [the investigators] are sure they [the suspects] are Russian".

Dawn Sturgess died in a hospital in July, while her partner, Charlie Rowley, later recovered.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons confirmed Tuesday that Rowley and Sturgess were also exposed to Novichok. It had been held in a pink box, falsely labeled as Nina Ricci Premier Jour perfume.

Detectives believe the front door of Mr Skripal's Salisbury home was contaminated with the military-grade substance on Sunday March 4.

"This announcement will further worsen relations between the United Kingdom and Russian Federation", said Al Jazeera's Lee.

Prosecutor Sue Hemming said the United Kingdom will not ask Russian Federation to extradite the suspects as Moscow prohibits the extradition of its citizens. Such a notice would make it hard for them to travel outside Russian Federation.

Dr Lomas said it is unlikely the two men charged today will ever face justice before a court of law. Later, she told the state news agency Interfax that the ministry demanded that the British supply Russian Federation with the fingerprints of the two men accused of the attempted murder of the Skripals.

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