Two Russians charged in nerve-agent attack
Britain deepened its diplomatic feud with Moscow on Wednesday, charging two men it says are Russian military intelligence officers with the nerve-agent poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a double agent who betrayed the service by spying for the West.
But the authorities noted that there was little chance Russia would hand over the suspects, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, to face justice in Britain.
Prime Minister Theresa May said the use of a chemical weapon in the city of Salisbury, which left a British woman dead and four people, including Skripal and his daughter, seriously ill, was carried out by officers of the GRU intelligence service and almost certainly approved "at a senior level of the Russian state."
"This was not a rogue operation," she told lawmakers after police released photos of the suspects as they travelled through London and Salisbury before flying back to Moscow from Heathrow Airport on the evening of March 4, hours after the Skripals were poisoned.
Moscow strongly denies involvement in the attack, and Russian officials said they did not recognise the suspects.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the names and images of Petrov and Boshirov "say nothing to us".
British prosecutors said the two were being charged in absentia with conspiracy to murder, attempted murder, and use of the nerve agent Novichok.