Putin was responsible for Novichok attack: U.K. Minister

‘It is his government that controls the military intelligence’

September 06, 2018 09:19 pm | Updated 09:19 pm IST - London

 U.K. Security Minister Ben Wallace.

U.K. Security Minister Ben Wallace.

Britain pointed the finger at Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday for a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in England — a charge that Moscow rejected as “unacceptable”.

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. Security Minister Ben Wallace said that Mr. Putin was “ultimately” responsible for the poisoning in the southwestern city of Salisbury — prompting an angry response from Moscow.

Moscow denies claims

“For us any sort of accusation regarding the Russian leadership is unacceptable,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.

Britain has previously accused Russia of orchestrating the attack, but Moscow denies any involvement and insists it is ready to cooperate in any investigation. “Neither Russia’s top leadership nor those in the ranks below, nor any official representatives have anything to do with the events in Salisbury,” Mr. Peskov said.

Prime Minister Theresa May announced on Wednesday that police had issued international arrest warrants for the two suspects, identified as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov. She said they were members of Russian military intelligence and acted on orders from a “high level”, but Mr. Wallace went further when asked if Mr. Putin had responsibility.

‘Putin is in control’

“Ultimately he does in so far as he is the President of the Russian Federation and it is his government that controls, funds and directs the military intelligence, the GRU, via his Ministry of Defence,” Mr. Wallace told BBC radio. He added: “I don’t think anyone can ever say that Mr. Putin isn’t in control of his state... And the GRU is without doubt not rogue.

“It is led, linked to both the senior members of the Russian general staff and the Defence Minister, and through that into the Kremlin and the President’s office.”

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