UK security chief: Putin ‘bears responsibility’ for Skripal attack

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UK security chief: Putin ‘bears responsibility’ for Skripal attack
UK security chief: Putin ‘bears responsibility’ for Skripal attack

The U.K. will take measures to “maintain the pressure on Russia,” Britain’s security minister said Thursday, after British intelligence services found the suspects in the nerve-agent attack on a former Russian spy in Salisbury were employed directly by the Russia state.

“We retaliate in our way, we’re not the Russians,” Security Minister Ben Wallace told the BBC’s Radio 4 Today Programme on Thursday, adding that countermeasures would take place “both in the overt and covert space, within the rule of law.”

His comments come after Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday blamed the Russian military for coordinating and authorizing the “barbaric” chemical weapons attack on former double-agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury in March, saying the suspects were officers from the Russian military intelligence agency GRU.

“I’m afraid we can’t really get into the intelligence,” Wallace said, citing confidentiality. He stressed, however, that GRU would not go “rogue” and likely received its orders from senior members of the Russian state.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, he added, “takes pride in surrounding himself with former intelligence officers.” Wallace remarked that Putin’s government also directs funds to military intelligence, saying the Russian leader “bares responsibility” for the attack.

The U.K. will also take diplomatic measures against Russia, by making its case for sanctions to the United Nations and pursuing European chemical sanctions mechanisms, according to Wallace.

Asked about the possibility of enforcing financial sanctions on Russian oligarchs and government officials, as the United States has done, Wallace said the U.K. lacks such unilateral power “as long as we’re a member of the European Union.”

“At the very least, we need to maintain the pressure,” he said.

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