Thursday, 13 December, 2018

UK: Russia spied on ex-double agent Sergei Skripal for years

Chemical watchdog backs UK: Nerve agent poisoned spy Skripal Britain Has Set Out Its Most Detailed Explanation Yet For Why It Believes Russia Is Responsible For The Salisbury Poisoning
| 14 April, 2018, 22:16

Russia has run programs investigating methods of delivering nerve agents, "including by application to door handles", and is "highly likely" responsible for the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, according to intelligence made public by the United Kingdom on Friday.

"We have information indicating Russian intelligence service interest in the Skripals, dating back at least as far as 2013, when e-mail accounts belong to Yulia were targeted by GRU cyber specialists", Sedwill wrote.

While it was "unlikely" that Novichok could be made and deployed by terrorists or criminal gangs, Sir Mark said Russian Federation had continued to produce and stockpile small quantities of the nerve agent within the last decade. The same facility was named in a report by British newspaper The Times last week as the location where the nerve agent used on the Skripals was manufactured, with the paper citing British security sources.

It goes on to say that "during the 2000s", Russian Federation created a special unit to develop chemical weapons for use as tools in state-sponsored attacks and to "train personnel from special units in the use of these weapons".

"We therefore continue to judge that only Russia has the technical means, operational experience and motive for the attack on the Skripals and that it is highly likely that the Russian state was responsible", he said.

Turning to how exactly nerve agents are used by Russia, Sedwill said: "During the 2000s, Russia commenced a programme to test means of delivering chemical warfare agents and to train personnel from special units in the use of these weapons".

The letter adds that Russian intelligence services "view at least some of its defectors as legitimate targets for assassination".


He said it included investigating ways of delivering nerve agents by applying them to door handles.

Theresa May, the British prime minister, has said the Skripals were attacked with one of the Novichok group of poisons, which had been developed by the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 80s.

The note demanded the withdrawal of one Georgian diplomat now serving in Moscow at the Swiss Embassy Interests Section, as Georgia and Russia have no diplomatic ties since the Russia-Georgia 2008 war and Switzerland has acted as a mediator.

He said that Russian Federation had continued to produce and stockpile small quantities of Novichoks within the last decade. "We didn't hear any signs, any applications from the British side".

He questioned the authenticity of a statement issued by Ms Skripal through the Metropolitan Police saying she did not want to meet Russian officials.

In a news conference Friday afternoon, the Russian ambassador to Britain, Aleksandr V. Yakovenko, dismissed the letter and "all these allegations" surrounding the nerve agent attack as having "nothing to do with reality". Her father remains hospitalized but British health officials say he is improving.

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