Ever since the near-fatal poisoning in March of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the bucolic English city of Salisbury, suspicion has focused on the Kremlin for the brazen crime. Employing Novichok, a weapons-grade nerve agent, to strike down the Skripals was astonishingly aggressive even for Moscow, which in recent years has been on a global killing spree of an audacity and lethality not witnessed since the days of Joseph Stalin.
The British government has consistently pointed the finger at the regime of President Vladimir Putin. Armed with intelligence as well as forensic evidence that established Moscow’s likely culpability, little more than a week after the failed hit, Prime Minister Theresa May denounced Moscow’s efforts to dodge responsibility and expelled 23 Russian diplomats—in reality, spies—from Britain. The gravity of the Skripal case has only grown since, not least because almost four months after the attack, poison left behind by the assassins struck down two innocent Britons, one of whom, Dawn Sturgess, died from exposure to Novichok.
This week, the May government put the case back on the front pages by publicly outing Kremlin agents as the Salisbury assassins. The prime minister named two Russian spies, Aleksandr Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, as the “officers of the Russian military intelligence service” wanted for the crime, adding, “This was not a rogue operation. It was almost certainly approved outside the GRU at a senior level of the Russian state.”
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