Suspects in Skripal poisoning civilians, not criminals: Putin

British authorities issued European arrest warrants for the two suspects identified as Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov More

British authorities issued European arrest warrants for the two suspects identified as Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov More

Britain accused Russian Federation on Wednesday of "obfuscation and lies" after President Vladimir Putin denied that the two men Britain suspects of poisoning former spy Sergei Skripal with a nerve agent were military intelligence officers.

British prosecutors last week identified two Russians they said were operating under aliases - Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov - whom they accused of trying to murder the Skripals with a military-grade nerve agent in England.

According to him, London repeatedly asked Moscow to give an account for the events that occurred in March in Salisbury, where the Skripals were poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok, but the responses heard from the Russian authorities were "only confusion and lies".

"We know who they are, we have found them", the premier said at an economic forum in Vladivostock.

"I hope that they will emerge (in public) themselves and tell about themselves". This would be best for everyone. There is nothing special or criminal there. "We'll see in the near future".

The Skripals were found unconscious at a shopping centre in Salisbury on March 4 and were admitted to a hospital soon after.

Prosecutors deem it futile to apply to Russian Federation for the extradition of the two men but a European Arrest Warrant has been obtained and the authorities are also seeking the assistance of Interpol.

United Kingdom authorities have said the men arrived in the United Kingdom from Moscow on March 2.

Detectives believe the front door of Mr Skripal's Salisbury home was contaminated with Novichok. A police officer who found them was also hospitalized.

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

He tried to put bottle and applicator together and got some of the contents on himself.

The statement by Putin marked an abrupt shift from Russia's earlier position on the poisoning case that has damaged relations between Moscow and the West. UK Prime Minister Theresa May has also said Britain will push for the European Union to agree new sanctions.

Russian state TV channel Rossiya-24 said the suspect named as Alexander Petrov would maybe speak next week.

For months, Russian Federation has accused the British authorities of fabricating the evidence in the Skripal case, saying the surveillance footage is doctored.

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