Several nations, including the US, France, Germany and Canada, have agreed with the assertion made by the UK government that Russia “almost certainly” approved the poisoning of former double-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury in March of this year.
Skripal – who is alleged to have blown the cover of over 300 Russian agents during his life – was poisoned alongside his daughter at his home in Salisbury, before being found slumped on a public bench in the Wiltshire city.
It has also been suggested that the inappropriate disposal of the nerve agent lead to the death of mother-of-three, Dawn Sturgess, and hospitalised her friend, Charlie Rowley, at the end of June and beginning of July.
The UK government was quick to condemn the attack and then pointed the blame at Russia and the Kremlin. In recent weeks the government have released the details of two Russian men who are wanted in connection with the poisoning. Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov are believed to work for the GRU – the Russian military intelligence service.
The publishing of these details led to a fiery showdown at the UN, where in a specially convened Security Council meeting, Karen Pierce, the UK ambassador, called the nerve agent attack a “direct challenge” to the “rules-based international system that has kept all of us safe.” Pierce was in turn accused of attempting to incite “disgusting anti-Russian hysteria” by Vasily Nebenzya, the Russian ambassador.
Nebenzya also pointed out a number of supposed “inconsistencies” in the UK’s findings – arguing that the latest pieces of evidence had been “invented out of thin air.” Nevertheless, various nations sided with the UK – with a statement saying: “We, the leaders of France, Germany, the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, reiterate our outrage at the use of a chemical nerve agent, known as Novichok, in Salisbury on March 4.”
This all comes after Theresa May’s comments in the Commons where she told Members of Parliament that the poisoning was “almost certainly” approved by senior officials at the Kremlin.
This served to heighten tensions between Russia and the UK even further, with Russia refusing to extradite the men. Any extradition would require a change to the Russian constitution – changes which will not be forthcoming. Regardless, Russia has refused to accept any responsibility for the attack and is presently asserting that the two men are innocent tourists who were merely on holiday at the time of the poisoning – claims the UK government have dismissed as “deeply offensive to the victims.”