Former Kremlin advisor Alexander Nekrassov has claimed that the two Novichok suspects could be “rogue agents or could be working for some very influential rich person”, despite Theresa May telling MPs the investigation concluded the two suspects are members of the GRU, Russia's military intelligence service.
Two Russian nationals have been identified as suspects over the Salisbury nerve agent attack.
Mr Nekrassov told talkRADIO’s Eamonn Holmes: “I think that these people, if they are at all involved, they must be either rogue agents or working for some very influential rich person or they are not even involved in this.
“It’s too early to say, but the whole structure, the whole way they behaved tells me they can’t be professionally trained agents, because they would not leave a trail like that.
“They wouldn’t leave behind the container containing novichok that would lead to Russia at once.
“The first thing an agent would do is cover up the connection to his country.”
‘They likely travelled under aliases’
Prosecutors have said that there is sufficient evidence to charge Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov with conspiring to murder Sergei Skripal and attempting to murder the ex-Russian spy, his daughter Yulia and Wiltshire Police Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey.
Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said the two suspects are aged around 40 and that they were likely travelling under aliases and Petrov and Boshirov are not their real names.
Prosecutors will not be applying to Russia for the extradition of the two men, but a European Arrest Warrant has been obtained.
Mr Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in March by the nerve agent Novichok.
When asked whether this would embarrass President Putin, Mr Nekrassov claimed: “I don’t think so, because the attitude in Moscow is that this is a combination of events where Russia’s being blamed for something it didn’t do.
“The main question many Russians are asking is this: what was the motive? Why would Putin, the kremlin, the GRU, launch such an operation, when it was coming up to the elections in Russia?
“When it was the World Cup, the stakes were too high for Russia to be involved in such a case.
“Sergei Skripal was of no interest to Russian intelligence.”
‘The GRU is a highly-disciplined organisation’
Theresa May told MPs investigations have concluded that the two suspects are members of the GRU, Russia's military intelligence service.
In a statement that will deepen the diplomatic crisis between the two countries, the Prime Minister said: "The GRU is a highly-disciplined organisation with a well-established chain of command. So this was not a rogue operation.
"It was almost certainly also approved outside the GRU at a senior level of the Russian state."
Mr Nekrassov added: “There are rogue agents of all sorts of different intelligence agencies which can pull a stunt like that.
"The point that the Russians are asking the officials is why is it immediately from the start, from March 4th, that everybody said it was Russia?
"Second day I think it was. Why didn’t anyone look at any other scenario? It can’t work like this."
Detectives believe the front door of Mr Skripal's Salisbury home was contaminated with the military-grade substance on Sunday March 4.
Mr Basu said CCTV shows the two suspects in the vicinity of the property on that date.
Hours later, the men left the UK on a flight from Heathrow to Moscow - two days after they had arrived at Gatwick.