Vladimir Putin says Russia identified suspects in Novichok poisoning

Skripal poisoning suspects are civilians, not criminals, says Putin

Skripal poisoning suspects are civilians, not criminals, says Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin says his government knows who two men are whom United Kingdom police recently accused of poisoning former spy Sergei Skripal.

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

"We know who they are, we have found them", Putin told an economic forum in Vladivostok, the far-eastern Russian city.

"I hope that they will show up and tell everything themselves".

British authorities have issued European arrest warrants for Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, two suspected members of Russian military intelligence, the GRU.

The Russian president said they are "civilians" with no links to the government.

Russia's UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, meanwhile, told the UN Security Council that Britain's claim Russian Federation was behind the attack was an invention "out of thin air", and riddled with inconsistencies. There is nothing special there, nothing criminal, I assure you.

British officials demanded at a meeting with Russia's charge d'affaires that those responsible for the poisoning of the Skripals were brought to justice.

A 44-year-old British national, Dawn Sturgess, died in July from exposure to what police say was the same nerve agent that afflicted the Skripals, in a town just north of Salisbury.

Skripal poisoning suspects are civilians, not criminals, says Putin

Mr Skripal and daughter Yulia were poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok in the city of Salisbury on March 4th.

"I would like to call on them so that they can hear us today", he said.

The attack left Sergei Skripal, 67, and Yulia Skripal, 34, in critical condition, but both have recovered after weeks in the hospital.

May's spokesman said later that Britain's attempts to get an explanation from Russian Federation have always been met with obfuscation and lies.

They said they would not formally demand the men's extradition, as Russian Federation does not extradite its citizens, but have obtained a European Arrest Warrant for the pair.

Al Jazeera's Rory Challands, reporting from Vladivostok, said Putin's remarks contradict the earlier claims made by the Russian foreign ministry.

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.

He said the government had exposed them as GRU operatives - and that is what they are.

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