Russia have been spying on Skripals for five years, security adviser says

Glen Norman
April 14, 2018

He made the assertion in a letter to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg today explaining Britain's conclusion the Russian government was to blame for the poisoning.

Mr Sedwill wrote: "We have information indicating Russian intelligence service interest in the Skripals, dating back at least as far as 2013, when email accounts belonging to Yulia Skripal were targeted by GRU [Russian military intelligence] cyber specialists".

He said: "A combination of credible open-source reporting and intelligence shows that in the 1980s the Soviet Union developed a new class of "fourth generation" nerve agents, known as Novichoks".

It says that Russian Federation continued to produce the agents after the breakup of the Soviet Union, but did not declare the work to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

Investigators at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons confirmed British findings that the Skripals were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent but didn't say who was responsible.


Russian Federation strongly denies the UK's claims about Novichok, saying it destroyed its entire Soviet-era chemical weapons arsenal a year ago under worldwide oversight.

Richard Guthrie, an independent chemical-weapons expert, says an important detail in the investigation is that the toxic substance is of "high purity".

He said Russian Federation had a "proven record of conducting state-sponsored assassination" and that it was "highly likely" some defectors - like Mr Skripal, a former GRU officer who was exchanged in a spy swap in 2010 - may be regarded as "legitimate targets".

It follows the confirmation on Thursday by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons that the toxin used in the Salisbury incident was Novichok - a military grade nerve agent developed by Russian Federation in the 1980s.

Sir Mark said Russian Federation had a "proven record of conducting state-sponsored assassination" and that it was "highly likely" some defectors may be regarded as "legitimate targets".


The toxin attack prompted the biggest Western expulsion of Russian diplomats since the Cold War as allies in Europe and the United States sided with Mrs May's view that Moscow was either responsible or had lost control of the nerve agent.

"If somebody was spying, why were the British services not complaining about that", he said, according to Sky News. "Within the last decade, Russian Federation has produced and stockpiled small quantities of Novichoks under the same program".

"We get the impression the British Government is deliberately pursuing the policy of destroying all possible evidence".

Skripal, 66, and his daughter, 33, were admitted to a hospital after being found unconscious on a public bench on March 4. Her father remains hospitalized but British health officials say he is improving.

On Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the report does nothing to back the British allegations that Moscow was behind the attack, which Moscow denies.


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