Britain said Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin had “ultimate” responsibility for a nerve agent attack on a former Russian double agent in England, ahead of a briefing of the UN Security Council.
London has accused two members of Russian military intelligence of using Novichok to try to kill former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the southwestern city of Salisbury.
Security Minister Ben Wallace said Putin bore ultimate responsibility for the poisoning.
“Ultimately he does in so far as he is the president of the Russian Federation and it is his government that controls, funds and directs the military intelligence, the GRU, via his ministry of defence.”
He told BBC radio: “I don’t think anyone can ever say that Mr Putin isn’t in control of his state…. And the GRU is without doubt not rogue.
“It is led, linked to both the senior members of the Russian general staff and the defence minister, and through that into the Kremlin and the president’s office.”
Britain will brief the UN Security Council later Thursday on its latest findings, with the meeting due to open around 11:30 am (1530 GMT).
Moscow on Wednesday again denied involvement in the case, accusing Britain of “unfounded accusations”.
“Instead of conducting an independent, objective and transparent investigation… London continues to engage in anti-Russian megaphone diplomacy, continuing its propaganda show,” the foreign ministry said.
The Skripals survived the poisoning but remnants of Novichok found in a fake perfume bottle were picked up by a local man weeks later.
Charlie Rowley gave it to his girlfriend, Dawn Sturgess, who later died.
British prosecutors said Wednesday they had enough evidence to charge the two men identified as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov with conspiracy to murder Skripal, attempted murder and the use of a banned chemical weapon.
They said they would not formally demand their extradition, as Russia does not extradite its citizens, but have obtained a European Arrest Warrant for the pair.