Sus­pected spies ‘out in the cold’ over botched poi­son­ing

The West Australian - - WORLD -

The Rus­sian se­cret ser­vices are in cri­sis over the fall­out from the “botched” chem­i­cal weapons at­tack in Sal­is­bury, Bri­tish in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cers be­lieve.

The GRU, Rus­sia’s mil­i­tary in­tel­li­gence ser­vice, is be­ing ac­cused by ri­val agen­cies of “cross­ing the line” over the way the at­tempted killing of Sergei Skri­pal and his daugh­ter Yu­lia was car­ried out, se­nior White­hall sources claim.

Bri­tish of­fi­cials said they be­lieve the two sus­pects ac­cused by Scot­land Yard of the at­tack were wheeled out on Rus­sian state-spon­sored tele­vi­sion as pun­ish­ment for leav­ing a trail of ev­i­dence dur­ing the op­er­a­tion to tar­get Mr Skri­pal.

This in­cluded be­ing seen on CCTV walk­ing around Sal­is­bury in broad day­light, us­ing pub­lic trans­port and care­lessly dis­card­ing the bot­tle con­tain­ing Novi­chok in a park, lead­ing to the death of Dawn Sturgess, a 44-year-old Sal­is­bury woman, in July.

A White­hall source said that one the­ory un­der re­view was that the men “are be­ing thrown un­der the bus by an­other agency be­cause they’ve messed up”.

A source said: “It’s a line of in­quiry — that there is an in­ter­nal Rus­sian (dis­pute) that ‘that agency has crossed the line, let’s throw the guys un­der the bus’. We’re wait­ing with in­ter­est to see what they come out with.”

Bri­tish agen­cies be­lieve that one in­di­ca­tion of the grow­ing ten­sion be­tween dif­fer­ent branches of the Rus­sian se­cret ser­vices is the fal­ter­ing pro­pa­ganda com­ing out of Moscow.

Rus­lan Boshi­rov and Alexan­der Petrov at Sal­is­bury train sta­tion.

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