Russian President Vladimir Putin should ultimately be held responsible for the nerve agent attack on former Russia spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury in March, said the United Kingdom’s Security Minister Ben Wallace on Thursday, reported BBC.
His comments come a day after the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service named and charged two Russian men, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, as suspects. They were charged in absentia with a conspiracy to murder, attempted murder, and use of the nerve agent Novichok. Police also appealed to the public to share any information on them.
The Kremlin, which has denied any involvement, said it was unacceptable to accuse its leadership.
On Thursday, UK officials will brief the United Nations Security Council, which includes Russia, on the investigation. The UK must use the meeting to “maintain the pressure, to say the behaviour we have seen is totally unacceptable”, said Wallace.
The minister added that the Russian government “controls, funds and directs the military intelligence” and that it was impossible to say that Putin was “not in control of his state”.
On March 4, Skripal and his daughter were found unconscious on a park bench outside a shopping centre in Salisbury, England. They recovered after weeks of treatment.
The poisoning led to a major diplomatic controversy globally. The UK and its allies, including the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, accused Moscow of involvement in the incident and expelled 23 Russian diplomats from their territories. The US expelled 60 suspected Russian spies after the incident.
Russia has repeatedly denied claims that the nerve agent, Novichok, used to poison the pair was developed in the country or in the Soviet Union.
In July, a woman died in Amesbury town in South West England after being exposed to the same nerve agent. Amesbury is about 13 km from Salisbury, the place where Skripal was poisoned.
In August, the US announced its decision to impose sanctions on Russia for its alleged use of a nerve agent.