Chemical weapons: EU blacklists ‘Salisbury tourists’, their bosses

The Council of the European Union imposed sanctions on nine persons and one entity under the new regime of restrictive measures against the use and proliferation of chemical weapons created on 15 October 2018.

“These designations include the two GRU officials, and the Head and Deputy Head of the GRU(also known as the G.U., or the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces) responsible for possession, transport and use in Salisbury (UK) of a toxic nerve agent on the weekend of 4 March 2018,” the statement reads.

In addition to blacklisting the duo of ‘Petrov and Boshirov’, EU officials took into account ‘senior leadership’ of GRU Head Igor Kostyukov and his deputy Vladimir Alexseyev.

Sanctions are also imposed on the Syrian entity responsible for the development and production of chemical weapons, the Scientific Studies and Research Centre (SSRC), as well as five Syrian officials directly involved in the SSRC’s activities.

Sanctions consist of a travel ban to the EU and an asset freeze for persons, and an asset freeze for entities. In addition, EU persons and entities are forbidden from making funds available to those listed. This decision contributes to the EU’s efforts to counter the proliferation and use of chemical weapons which poses a serious threat to international security.

Skripal case: Third GRU agent identified – British media

On March 4, former Russian agent Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yuliya, 33, were found unconscious at a shopping mall in the English town of Salisbury. The two were taken to hospital in critical condition. The were reportedly poisoned following exposure to an unknown substance. A bit later, British Prime Minister Theresa May said they had been poisoned with Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia.

In early September, British prosecutors said the names of two Russian citizens suspected of poisoning the Skripals were Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov. In the wake of it, the Insider and OSINT group Bellingcat published he results of its journalistic investigation. According to the journalists, the real name of Ruslan Boshirovis Anatoly Chepiga, a GRU Colonel and Hero of Russia, while ‘Alexander Petrov’ is GRU officer Alexander Mishkin in real life.

‘Petrov’ and ‘Boshirov’ denied their having any relation to the Russian special services in the interview with the Kremlin mouthpiece Russia Today. They claimed they had visited Salisbury to see the sights, including the local medieval cathedral. Their clumsy statements and ridiculous explanations triggered a wave of jokes on the Internet.

Later, the British media outlet Telegraph reported with reference to its own sources that a third Russian military intelligence officer who had carried out a reconnaissance mission before the poisoning of Sergei Skripal was identified by counter terrorism police and the security services.

The incident caused a number of rows and caused a diplomatic war between the West and the Kremlin.