Tags: uk | us | sergei skripal | robert mueller | russia probe indictments

UK Poisoning May Be Tied to Russian Agency in Mueller Indictments

UK Poisoning May Be Tied to Russian Agency in Mueller Indictments
Police outside the home of Sergei Skripal. (AP)

By    |   Sunday, 15 July 2018 08:46 PM

The Russian military intelligence service accused of meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election may also have been responsible for the poisoning earlier this year of a former Russian spy in the U.K., The New York Times reported Sunday.

Investigators in Britain believe agents with the G.R.U. were sent to the home of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal who lived in southern England, the Times wrote, citing three unnamed sources. Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were sickened by a military-grade nerve agent on March 4.

According to an unnamed former American official, U.K. investigators believe they are close to identifying the agents involved, admitting it could have been other Russian intelligence agencies responsible for the attack.

The news comes as President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin gear up for their summit in Helsinki on Monday. On Friday, the Justice Department announced indictments for 12 G.R.U. officers claiming they were responsible for hacking into Democratic National Committee communications and Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.

Analysts and government officials maintain the G.R.U. has been involved in conflicts around the world, including Russia's war in Ukraine, the 2014 annexation of Crimea and supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The strike force is also known for creating political turmoil in other countries, including the funding of protests.

Skripal had worked in the G.R.U. for about 15 years while also working as an informant in the U.K. He was arrested in 2004 and pleaded guilty to espionage, serving six years of a 13-year sentence before his release in 2010 as part of a spy swap.

Skripal's daughter was visiting him from Russia at the time of the attack. Both have healed since the incident and are living in hiding.

The Times noted that poisonings were generally a tool used by the Kremlin on traitors. Russian officials have denied any involvement in the nerve agent attack against the Skripals.

Putin spokesman Dmitri S. Peskov on Sunday denied the G.R.U. was at fault, saying, "Russia is in no way involved in this episode . . . We consider this whole thing a major provocation."

And, the attack may not have been conducted by a Russian government agency, as later years have seen a desire by the Kremlin to create hybrid operations, making it less likely to be traced to the Russian government.

"Our country has come to the understanding that the government should not be committing crimes," said Dmitri A. Muratov, director of the editorial board at Novaya Gazeta, an independent newspaper. Hybrid operations, he said, "are close to the government but not of the government."

Earlier this summer, two more British citizens became critically ill after being exposed to the same nerve agent. One of the victims died on July 8. U.K. police said the latest victims were exposed to the same nerve agent that sickened the Skripals earlier in the year.

The situation has caused a strain on relations between the U.K. and Russia, according to the Times. In April, Britain, the U.S. and other allies expelled 150 Russian diplomats in protest of the poisoning. Russia responded in like manner expelling a number of foreign diplomats.

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The Russian military intelligence service accused of meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election may also have been responsible for the poisoning earlier this year of a former Russian spy in the U.K., The New York Times reported Sunday. Investigators in Britain believe...
uk, us, sergei skripal, robert mueller, russia probe indictments
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2018-46-15
Sunday, 15 July 2018 08:46 PM
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