Politics

Salisbury attack: Novichok deaths still affecting UK-Russia relations, PM tells Putin

The UK has not forgiven Moscow for the Salisbury novichok poisoning attack, Boris Johnson has told Vladimir Putin.

Dozens of Russian diplomats were expelled from Britain after the attack and relations with Moscow will not return to normal until the Kremlin stops destabilising the UK and attacking its citizens, the prime minister told Russia’s president at the Berlin Conference on Libya.

A Downing Street spokesperson said in a statement after the two leaders met on the margins of the summit that Mr Johnson “was clear there had been no change in the UK’s position on Salisbury”.

The attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal was “a reckless use of chemical weapons and a brazen attempt to murder innocent people on UK soil”, the spokesman said.

“The prime minister said there will be no normalisation of our bilateral relationship until Russia ends the destabilising activity that threatens the UK and our allies and undermines the safety of our citizens and our collective security.”

Mr Skripal, a former Russian spy, and his daughter were left critically ill after being targeted by Russian agents, in March 2018 but recovered.

Mother-of-three Dawn Sturgess died from novichok poisoning after her partner Charlie Rowley found a contaminated bottle discarded by the perpetrators, believing it to be a perfume bottle.

Russia has always denied being behind the attack, but UK police identified two Russian nationals, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov who were in the Wiltshire city at the time and, they claimed, carried it out.

The pair have denied involvement, but in the furore that followed the attack many Russian diplomats were expelled from embassies around the world.

Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, part of the team that investigated the attack, was treated in hospital after being exposed to the nerve agent, despite wearing a protective suit.

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