According to official UK sources and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), on 4 March 2018, Sergei Skripal, a former Russian military officer and double agent for the UK’s intelligence services, and his daughter Yulia Skripal were poisoned in Salisbury, England, with a Novichok nerve agent known as A-234.
The two remained in hospital in a critical condition, with Yulia regaining consciousness after 3 weeks and her father, a month after that. A police officer was also taken into intensive care after being contaminated when he went to Sergei Skripal’s house.
On 12th March 2018 the British Government accused Russia of attempted murder and announced a series of punitive measures against Russia, including the expulsion of diplomats. 28 other countries responded in support of the UK and 153 Russian diplomats were expelled. Scotland Yard said they believed a two-man hit squad, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, was behind the Salisbury attack in which the door handle of Skripal’s home was smeared with the powerful nerve agent which was kept in a perfume bottle.
Russia denied the accusations and responded similarly to the expulsions and “accused Britain of the poisoning.” t
The suspects were caught on CCTV in Salisbury at 11.58am on Sunday March 4, “moments before the attack”, police said.
It is understood Petrov and Boshirov stayed in the City Stay Hotel in Bow, East London, during their time in the UK.
The pair are thought to have left the UK the morning after the attack.
Police searched the hotel room of where the two Russian agents had stayed on 4th May 2018 and found minute traces of Novichok.
The UK’s Crown Prosecution Service said there was enough evidence to charge them with conspiracy to murder.
On 30 June 2018 a similar poisoning of two British nationals in Amesbury seven miles from Salisbury, involved the same nerve agent. Charlie Rowley found the nerve agent in a perfume bottle and gave it to his girlfriend, Dawn Sturgess, who then subsequently sprayed it on.
Within 15 mins, she was taken ill and died in hospital on 8 July 2018, but Mr. Rowley, who had also come in contact with the poison survived.British police believe this incident was not a targeted attack, but a result of the way the nerve agent was disposed of after the poisoning in Salisbury.
Dawn Sturgess was aged 44 and left behind aggrieved family and friends.
Novichok is a series of nerve agents developed by the Soviet Union and Russia between 1971 and 1993. Russian scientists who developed the agents claim they are the deadliest nerve agents ever made, with some variants possibly five to eight times more potent than VX, and others up to ten times more potent than soman.