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Russia will multiply assassination attempts on British soil if the government does not “act very firmly”, the ministers warned.

No new sanctions or diplomatic action against the Kremlin were announced after a third GRU agent was indicted for the 2018 novichok attack on Sergei Skripal.

The charge came to light just hours after the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Russia was responsible for the fatal poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko in 2006.

Boris Johnson has urged the country’s authorities to “hand over” the three Salisbury suspects so that they can be brought to justice in the UK, but Russia has denied any involvement and no extradition treaty exists.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Foreign Office spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused the UK of “deliberately worsening relations” and of using poisoning “to increase anti-Russian sentiment in British society “.

“We condemn the attempts to blame Russia,” she added. “We are trying to verify the truth and want comprehensive information from the UK.”

Russia had previously refused to extradite the main suspect accused of Litvinenko’s murder, and the former KGB agent is now a member of the Russian parliament.

Addressing the House of Commons on Tuesday, Senior Conservative MP David Davis said there was a “very clear lesson” to be learned.

“If we don’t act very firmly, they will do it again,” he added. “We must therefore act, not only against the GRU officers that the Minister of the Interior correctly highlighted, but against all the manifestations of the Russian mafia state.

“If our government does not act more firmly now than we did after the murder of Litvinenko, it will happen again. “

It came days after a parliamentary committee accused the government of an “increasingly relaxed approach to national security” and called for reform.

A report on the threat posed by Russia, released last year, said the UK had “seriously underestimated the Russian threat and the response it required.”

When asked why no new diplomatic sanctions or expulsions had been announced, the interior minister said the government had “ruled nothing out”.

“The United Nations General Assembly is taking place,” added Priti Patel. “All of these discussions with our allies and many of our bilateral counterparts are absolutely underway. We are constantly having discussions to look at what other levers we have and what the next steps should be. “

Denis Sergeev is the third suspect charged with the Salisbury poisonings

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Ms Patel said the government would be “relentless in our quest for justice” for the victims of the Salisbury attack, which resulted in the death of 44-year-old mother Dawn Sturgess.

“If any of these people should travel outside of Russia, we will work with our international partners and take all possible measures to arrest and extradite them so that they can be brought to justice,” she added.

Caroline Corbin, Mayor of Salisbury, told The Independent the outlook looked “grim”.

“For Dawn Sturgess and her family, it doesn’t look like they will see justice,” she said.

“I think certain steps should be taken to ensure that justice is done. Everyone wants justice done. ”

Ms Corbin said the poisoning continued to impact the city, which had “barely returned to normal” before Covid struck, and everyone who lives there continues to be affected.

Interpol Red Notices have circulated internationally over the past three years for the two previously indicted suspects in the attack, GRU agents Alexander Mishkin and Anatoliy Chepiga, but no arrests have been made. The new suspect, Denis Sergeev, is also believed to remain in Russia.

The prosecution cleared the same charges against him as the two previous suspects, including the attempted murder of Mr Skripal and his daughter Yulia, grievous bodily harm to police officer Nick Bailey and the use of novichok as a chemical weapon.

Sergeev, who traveled to the UK under the pseudonym Sergey Fedotov, is said to have ordered the poisoning operation from London.

He arrived in Britain hours before his alleged accomplices on March 2, 2018, and met them “more than once” before the attack.

Sergeev returned to Moscow from Heathrow at 1:45 p.m. on March 4, less than two hours after the nerve agent was applied to Mr Skripal’s front door.

Detectives admitted that they still did not know what happened to the counterfeit perfume bottle used to administer the nerve agent, between the time it was dumped by the perpetrators on March 4, 2018 and its discovery by a inhabitant of Salisbury on June 22 of the same year.

Charlie Rowley offered the bottle to Ms Sturgess, not knowing it contained enough novichok to kill “thousands of people,” police said.

Dean Haydon, the senior national counterterrorism police coordinator, said the three suspects “worked as a team” to target Mr Skripal, a former double agent who provided information to MI6.

“We have gathered evidence suggesting that Petrov, Boshirov and Fedotov have all worked together on behalf of the Russian state on operations outside of Russia,” he told a press conference.

“We are in discussions with other countries, notably Bulgaria and the Czech Republic, regarding the investigations they are carrying out. “

British authorities are also in contact with other countries “interested” in the latest developments in the investigation.

The investigation is still ongoing and the police are investigating other suspects who may have participated in the poisoning operation.


The Independent Gt