Published: Sat, April 14, 2018
Global Media | By Jackie Banks

UK's national adviser says Russian Federation spied on Skripals

UK's national adviser says Russian Federation spied on Skripals

"It is highly likely that the Russian intelligence services view at least some of its defectors as legitimate targets for assassinations", Sedwill writes, alluding to a possible motive for the attack on Sergei Skripal, a former Russian military official convicted of being a British spy.

On Thursday, OPCW confirmed Britain's finding that Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a nerve agent in the English city of Salisbury on March 4.

Moscow has strongly denied responsibility and says Britain is waging a defamation campaign against it.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on April 12 confirmed Britain's findings about the nerve agent used in the attack after testing samples from Salisbury.

The Government's National Security Adviser Sir Mark Sedwill said cyber specialists from the GRU - Russian military intelligence - had targeted Yulia Skripal's email accounts as far back as 2013.

"It is highly likely that Novichoks were developed to prevent detection by the West and to circumvent worldwide chemical weapons controls", Sedwill said in the letter.

There are several variants of Novichok, a binary weapon containing two less-toxic chemicals that, when mixed, react to produce a poison several times more lethal than sarin or VX.

"It is highly likely that Novichoks were developed to prevent detection by the West and to circumvent global chemical weapons controls", he said. The central element of Britain's case against Russian Federation is the unusual nerve agent used in the attack, which was developed in Soviet laboratories during the last years of the Soviet Union.

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In the 2000s, Mr Sedwill said Russian Federation had trained military personnel in using these weapons, including on door handles.

The ambassador said London's approach to the high-profile case followed a pattern of crimes, in which the United Kingdom chose to classify details from the public and ignore Russia's request to disclose them.

Among the techniques they had investigated for delivering nerve agents was applying them to door handles, he said.

Turning to "operational experience", Sedwill said Russian had a "proven record of conducting state-sponsored assassination".

Lavrov said the report does nothing to back the British allegations that Moscow was behind the attack.

Regarding the Skripals themselves, Sedwill claims that email accounts belonging to Yulia Skripal were targeted by Russian intelligence agents in 2013, "indicating Russian intelligence service interest in the Skripals".

Also Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov responded to an worldwide chemical weapons watchdog's report on the poisoning. "Within the last decade, Russian Federation has produced and stockpiled small quantities of novichok under the same program".

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

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