US, France, Germany and Canada back UK Novichok findings

THERESA-MAY

PA MET POLICE STATEMENT The Prime Minister made an emergency statement before the House

Britain has concluded that the two men charged on Wednesday for the attempted murder of a former spy and his daughter with a nerve agent were Russian military intelligence officers nearly certainly acting with senior-level state approval.

Police believe Ms Sturgess and Mr Rowley were not deliberately targeted, but were in fact victims of recklessness in how the nerve agent was disposed of after the attempted assassination of Mr Skirpal.

Britain's security minister Ben Wallace called out Putin over the attack that used the nerve agent Novichok against the Skripals in Salisbury. The death of Sturgess and the poisoning of Rowley came later, in July.

The box, which was labelled as Nina Ricci's "Premier Jour" perfume, contained a bottle and an applicator.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May said the men, using the names Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, were thought to be officers from Russia's military intelligence service.

It was "unequivocally, crystal clear this was the act of the Russian state - two Russian nationals sent to Britain with the sole objective of carrying out a reckless assassination attempt", he said.

"Yesterday's announcement further strengthens our intent to continue to disrupt together the hostile activities of foreign intelligence networks on our territories, uphold the prohibition of chemical weapons, protect our citizens and defend ourselves from all forms of malign state activity directed against us and our societies".

London has accused two members of Russian military intelligence of using Novichok to try to kill former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in March.

"I have only seen help from the Russian state", she said.

Mr Javid told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show the GRU operated on a "very short leash from the Kremlin" and was "getting its instructions directly from the highest levels of the Russian government".

Police said they were aged in their 40s and had travelled on Russian passports arriving at Britain's Gatwick airport at 3pm on Friday, March 2 on Aeroflot flight SU2588 from Moscow.

"Neither the top leadership of Russian Federation, nor the leadership of lower ranks. had anything to do with the events in Salisbury".

In response to the incident, London in March expelled 23 Russian diplomats believed to be intelligence agents.

In a major new development, Prime Minister Theresa May announced Wednesday that police had issued global arrest warrants for the two suspects, identified as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov. And the GRU is without doubt not rogue.

The Skripal case has been likened by British politicians to the murder of Russian dissident ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko, who was poisoned with a rare radioactive isotope in a London hotel in 2006.

Britain says the responsibility for the attack goes all the way up to President Vladimir Putin.

A joint statement by the leaders of France, Germany, the U.S. and Canada on Thursday said they had "full confidence in the British assessment" as they chose to "reiterate our outrage" over the incident.

The Russian embassy in the United Kingdom used its Twitter account to post a series of messages aimed at undermining the credibility of the United Kingdom investigation - including comparisons to the intelligence evidence used to build the case for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Prosecutors did not release charges relating to the death of Dawn Sturgess, a woman who died in the Salisbury region after coming into contact with a discarded Novichok bottle several months after the Skripal poisonings, nor to the poisoning of her partner Charlie Rowley, who survived.

Petrov and Boshirov took the Underground to London Heathrow Airport at around 6:30pm.

"(This) means that if either man travels to a country where an EAW is valid, they will be arrested and face extradition on these charges for which there is no statute of limitations", which means the charges never expire.

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