Suspected spies ‘out in the cold’ over botched poisoning
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.