Russian Federation has identified suspects in UK Novichok poisoning, Putin says

Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov suspected of poisoning Sergei and Yulia Skripals in UK Salisbury are ordinary civilians.

"We know who these people are, we have found them", Putin said.

Vladimir Putin said he knows who and where they are, but that there was "nothing criminal" about their actions.

"I hope they will turn up themselves and tell about themselves", he said.

British prosecutors last week identified two Russians, whom they said were operating under aliases - Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov - and whom they accused of being the so-called "novichock two".

"They are civilians, of course", Putin said, contradicting the British government's assertion that they are officers of Russia's military intelligence agency, known as the GRU.

Britain's Home Secretary Sajid Javid said on Sunday that the order to carry out the nerve agent attack on 4 March came from the "highest level" of the Russian state.

'There is nothing special there, nothing criminal, I assure you.

The two suspects named by the United Kingdom as being behind the Novichok poisonings have been found in Russian Federation.

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Russian Federation has repeatedly denied any involvement in the incidents.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the president has not communicated with the men themselves since they were accused of poisoning the Skripals.

Both were poisoned with the military-grade nerve agent - developed by the former Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s - in March but survived after spending weeks in hospital.

Rowley gave it to his girlfriend, Dawn Sturgess, who later died. "The government has exposed the role of the GRU, its operatives and its methods, this position is supported by our global allies", the spokesman told reporters.

It has further damaged already severely strained relations between Russian Federation and the West and has been a cause for solidarity at a time when Western officials accuse Moscow of seeking to cause rifts in relations between Western countries.

They were described as being about 40 years old and believed to be travelling under fake names.

British prosecutors issued a warrant for the suspects' arrest last week.

Theresa May told parliament earlier this month that the attack "was nearly certainly also approved outside the GRU at a senior level of the Russian state".

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