The United Kingdom has asked Interpol to issue arrest warrants for two men accused of working for Russian intelligence and are wanted for the nerve agent attack on a former spy and his daughter in the English city of Salisbury.
In a statement before the UN Security Council, UK Ambassador Karen Pierce reiterated on Thursday that the British government has “clear evidence of Russian state involvement” in the attack and the use of the Novichok chemical weapon against former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia.
“There is an established pattern of malign Russian behaviour perpetrated by military and intelligence agencies overseas,” Pierce said.
“They work in a parallel universe where the normal rules of international affairs are inverted.”
Pierce’s strongly worded statement came as the UK, France, Germany, Canada and the United States pledged to work to disrupt “the hostile activities of foreign intelligence networks”.
In a joint statement, the countries said they backed Britain’s assessment that Russian officers were behind the Skripal attack.
“We have full confidence in the British assessment that the two suspects were officers from the Russian military intelligence service, also known as the GRU, and that this operation was almost certainly approved at a senior government level,” it said, adding they urged Russia to provide “full disclosure of its Novichok programme”.
“Yesterday’s announcement further strengthens our intent to continue to disrupt together the hostile activities of foreign intelligence networks on our territories, uphold the prohibition of chemical weapons, protect our citizens, and defend ourselves from all forms of malign state activity directed against us and our societies.”
In response, Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, accused London of “repeated lies” during the investigation.
He told the Security Council the allegations were “unfounded and mendacious”, and referred to the Novichok nerve agent as “mythical”.
Nebenzia also said the accusations intended to create “hysteria” against Moscow.
The UK government has refused Russia’s offer to join in the investigation of the case, he added.
Pierce responded, “You don’t recruit an arsonist to put out a fire. You especially don’t do that when the fire is one they caused.”
On Wednesday, UK prosecutors announced they were charging two suspects – identified as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov – for the attack.
The Skripals were poisoned with the military-grade nerve agent Novichok – developed by the former Soviet Union in the 1970s and ’80s – in March but survived after spending weeks in hospital.
The failed attack sparked an international diplomatic crisis with Russia being accused of responsibility by several countries – allegations Moscow has repeatedly denied.