Vladimir Putin says, Sergei Skripal suspects are 'civilians'

Updated: Sep 13, 2018, 14:35 IST | Agencies

Russian Prez says there's 'nothing special' about the men and suggests they will tell their story soon

Vladimir Putin says, Sergei Skripal suspects are 'civilians'
British authorities have issued European arrest warrants for two suspected members of Russian military intelligence. Pics/AFP

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday the two men Britain suspects of poisoning former spy Sergei Skripal with military-grade nerve agent are not criminals and have been identified as civilians. Speaking at an economic forum with Japan's Shinzo Abe and China's Xi Jinping in the far eastern city of Vladivostok, Putin urged the men to address the media and said there was "nothing criminal".

"We know who they are, we have found them," Putin said. "They are civilians, of course," he said, apparently responding to a claim by the British authorities that the two suspects are members of Russia's military intelligence agency. Putin urged the two men to speak to journalists.

"I hope they will turn up themselves and tell about themselves," he said. "There is nothing special there, nothing criminal, I assure you. We'll see in the near future." British authorities have issued European arrest warrants for Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, two suspected members of Russian military intelligence, the GRU.

They are accused of trying to kill former Russian spy Skripal and his daughter Yulia with the Novichok nerve agent in the English city of Salisbury on March 4, in an attack London believes was sanctioned by the Kremlin. The British government has said Putin is ultimately responsible for the attack, a claim the Kremlin has strongly denied.

Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov
Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov

Russia condemns US foreign policy
Russia's top diplomat Sergei Lavrov condemned US foreign policy by accusing Washington of imposing sanctions before it enters negotiations. "In most cases, the US is not very willing to negotiate," Lavrov said. "First, they announce sanctions, then more sanctions, and only after that they open talks," he said, warning that such policies were unlikely to lead to "long-term success".

Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin
Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin

'Give NK security guarantees'
Vladimir Putin said North Korea must be given security guarantees in exchange for steps towards denuclearisation. "North Korea, in return for its denuclearisation, was after all promised security guarantees. Clearly it is waiting for some sort of signal in response," Putin said. "It seems to be counterproductive if we demand everything from the North Korean side and in response they are given nothing," he said.

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