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3rd Russian agent visited Salisbury to plan Skripal attack: report

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sergei skripal nerve agent hazmat
British
authorities reportedly say a third Russian intelligence agent
traveled to England to prep for the nerve agent attack on former
Russian spy Sergei Skripal. In this photo, police investigate the
site of Skripal’s collapse.

Jack
Taylor/Getty Images


  • British authorities have identified a third agent
    involved in the attack against former Russian spy Sergei
    Skripal, The Telegraph reported.
  • The UK earlier this month accused two Russian
    intelligence agents of the attempted assassination.
  • The third agent was also part of Russia’s intelligence
    service, and this person visited England to check out the
    layout of Skripal’s neighborhood before his colleagues arrived,
    The Telegraph said.
  • The report comes as the investigative-journalism site
    Bellingcat identified one of the suspects as Col. Anatoliy
    Chepiga, a highly decorated officer with the GRU, Russia’s
    intelligence service.
  • The Kremlin has repeatedly denied knowledge of the
    attack. The latest findings may weakening this claim.

A third Russian intelligence agent went to England to plan the
nerve agent poisoning of a former Russian spy earlier this year,

The Telegraph has reported
, casting further doubt on the
Kremlin’s claims that it had no knowledge of the attack.

The UK in early September accused two Russian men, who traveled
under the names
Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov
, of the attempted
assassination.

British officials say they were members of the GRU, Russia’s
intelligence service. President Vladimir Putin
claimed the two men were civilians
, and the two men even
appeared on Russian TV to say they were visiting
Salisbury as tourists


skripal poisoning suspects salisbury train station
Surveillance
camera footage of Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, the two
suspects in the Skripal attack, at Salisbury train station the
day before Skripal’s collapse.

London
Metropolitan Police


UK counter terrorism police and the security services identified
the third agent, and say the person visited Salisbury to prepare
for the attack on
Sergei Skripal
before two of his colleagues arrived, The
Telegraph reported on Thursday night.

Authorities believe the third agent visited Salisbury ahead of
the attack, and reported the layout of Skripal’s neighborhood and
property to the two agents who later carried out the attack, the
newspaper said.


Skripals
A composite photo of
Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

AP/Facebook

Skripal and his daughter Yulia collapsed this March after being
exposed to novichok, a military-grade nerve agent, which was
smeared on his front door.

A British couple who lived nearby were also exposed to the same
batch of nerve agent in July, which led to the death of one
woman.

The investigative-journalism site Bellingcat this week identified
Boshirov as Col.
Anatoliy Chepiga, a highly decorated officer with the GRU,
Russia’s intelligence service.


skripal poisoning suspects
Photographs
showing Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, two men accused of
poisoning former spy Sergei Skripal. Boshirov was identified as
Russian intelligence officer Col. Anatoliy Chepiga this
week.

London Metropolitan
Police


Bellingcat’s findings suggest that Putin was in fact aware of the
suspect’s legal identity, which would seem to disprove
the Russian president’s claim that he didn’t know who Boshirov
and Petrov were, that they were civilians, and that the Kremlin
had no knowledge of the Skripal attack.

The findings are also in line with the British government’s
claim, citing security and intelligence agencies’ investigations,
that Boshirov and Petrov were officers from Russia’s intelligence
services.

Prime Minister Theresa May earlier this month also said
that authorization for the attack “almost certainly” came
from senior members of the Russian government.


Theresa May Vladimir Putin
A composite photo of Russian President Vladimir Putin
and British Prime Minister Theresa May.

Reuters/AP

The Skripal poisoning caused a large diplomatic rift between the
UK and Russia. London accused Moscow of being behind the attack,
which the Kremlin repeatedly denied. More than 20 countries also
joined the UK in
expelling Russian diplomats as punishment
.

The British Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, on Thursday suggested
that Russia was not expecting such a large international response
to the attempted assassination.

Hunt
told Sky News on Thursday
:

“They can’t have been expecting Theresa May to put together a
coalition that saw 153 Russian spies expelled from capitals in 28
countries across the world.

“So they paid a very high diplomatic price — but they need to
understand that it will not be a comfortable place for Russia in
the world if this is the way they behave.”

Business Insider has contacted the Russian Embassy in the UK for
comment.

The London Metropolitan Police, who is leading the investigation
into the attack, declined to comment on The Telegraph’s report.

The force
told Business Insider
in a statement on Thursday that
international arrest warrants for Petrov and Boshirov remain
active. However, Russia does not extradite its own citizens.

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