British and Russian officials will come face-to-face as the UN Security Council discusses the Salisbury Novichok attack hours after Prime Minister Theresa May said GRU agents were behind the deadly poisoning.
Police announced on Wednesday they had enough evidence to charge the men, named Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, over the poisoning in March.
The Prime Minister told MPs it was carried out by two Russian spies and sanctioned at a “senior level” by Vladimir Putin’s regime.
She told the House of Commons investigations have concluded that the two suspects are members of the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence service, and it was not a “rogue operation”.
As a permanent member of the Security Council, Russia will be represented at Thursday’s meeting, which was called by Britain to update members on the Salisbury investigation.
‘Putin bears responsibility for a war-like act’
Australia on Thursday said it was in “lock step” with the UK on the importance of holding Russia to account over the “heinous” attack, although it is not currently a council member.
Whilst Mrs May did not explicitly blame the Kremlin for authorising the attempted assassination, Commons Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Tom Tugendhat said there was “no doubt it was state ordered and President Putin bears responsibility for a war-like act”.
The Prime Minister told MPs the UK would push for new sanctions against Russians responsible for cyber attacks, additional listings under the existing regime and promised to work with intelligence allies to “counter the threat posed by the GRU”.
Former GRU officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were left critically ill after being exposed to the military grade nerve agent Novichok in March.
In a statement, the Russian Embassy in the UK accused the British authorities of being unwilling to engage with them and called on the UK government to “give up politicised public accusations”.