Sergei and Yulia Skripal will likely be offered “a new life in America in an attempt to protect them from further murder attempts,” reports The Sunday Times.
Intelligence officials at MI6 have had discussions with their counterparts in the CIA about resettling the victims of the Salisbury poisoning. “They will be offered new identities,” a senior Whitehall figure said.
Security sources said Britain would want to ensure their safety by relocating them with one of the “five eyes” countries, the intelligence-sharing partnership that also includes America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. –The Times
“The obvious place to resettle them is in America, because they’re less likely to be killed there and it’s easier to protect them there under a new identity,” an intelligence source familiar with the negotiations added. “There’s a preference for them to be resettled in a five-eyes nation because their case would have huge security implications.”
The former double agent and his daughter are both conscious according to senior sources, and will soon begin helping authorities with their investigation into the March 4 nerve agent attack that left the pair comatose in a Salisbury, UK park and sickened 21 others.
Senior sources revealed both victims were conscious and would soon begin helping investigators with their inquiries into the nerve agent attack on March 4. Yulia, 33, a Russian citizen, has rejected demands by the Russian embassy in London that it provides her and her father with consular support — a move that has convinced British officials she might move to the West permanently. –The Times
Many are wondering how the pair survived exposure to one of the deadliest nerve agents on the planet, as a 1mm drop is the lethal dose – about the size of a small drop of rain.
Sergei, 66, is said to be awake – however his recovery is said to be “further behind” his daughter. One source told The Times that ministers “hope they can both assist us with what happened soon.” That said, the Skripals “would likely never be the same again” and that the poisoning may have left them requiring “ongoing medical care.”
So far we’ve been told the Novichok was either smeared on a doorknob, at Sergi’s wife’s graveside, the air vents on Sergei’s BMW, and a “gift from friends” opened by Yulia at Zizi’s restaurant. Whatever the case, it also sickened 38 others.
Skripal is a former double agent who was imprisoned in Russia in 2006 after the Kremlin discovered he had been cooperating with British secret services since 1995. He was released and pardoned by then-president Dmitry Medvedev in 2010, and relocated to the UK as part of a spy swap. According to The Telegraph, Skripal reportedlyhas ties to former MI6 agent Christopher Steele.
The Telegraph understands that Col Skripal moved to Salisbury in 2010 in a spy swap and became close to a security consultant employed by Christopher Steele, who compiled the Trump dossier.
The British security consultant, according to a LinkedIn social network account that was removed from the internet in the past few days, is also based in Salisbury.
On the same LinkedIn account, the man listed consultancy work with Orbis Business Intelligence, according to reports. –The Telegraph
The Telegraph‘s report implies that Skripal – still tied to Russian intelligence, could have been a source for some of the claims in the “Steele Dossier,” a 35-page document full of salacious and unverified claims about Donald Trump, which was paid for by Hillary Clinton and the DNC and arranged for by opposition research firm Fusion GPS.
If Skripal was involved in the Steele dossier – it would greatly expand the list of who might want him to wake up dead.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Skripal wasn’t on Russia’s radar after the 2010 spy swap. “He was handed to Britain as a result of an exchange. So, why should Russia hand in a man that is of any importance or that is of any value? It’s unimaginable,” said the official. “He’s of zero value or zero importance.”
The Skripals were poisoned using what the UK says was a “military grade” nerve agent developed by Russia from the “Novichok” family of toxins – however Russia’s representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) told state-run television in mid-March that the U.S. and U.K. also developed the military-grade nerve agent used in the attack.
Speaking at the 87th session of the OPCW Friday, Shulgin suggested the “unfounded” accusations from the West should be redirected at themselves. “[It] may very well be that the substance used [in Skripal’s poisoning] may have come from the stocks” of the U.S. and U.K. –Newsweek
“Our British colleagues should recall that Russia and the United Kingdom are members of the OPCW which is one of the most successful and effective disarmament and non-proliferation mechanisms,” Shulgin said. “We call upon them to abandon the language of ultimatums and threats and return to the legal framework of the chemical convention, which makes it possible to resolve this kind of situation.”
Following the Skripal poisoning, the UK and several of its allies responded by expelling Russian diplomats – with the Trump administration kicking 60 Russians out of the country, and the UK expelling 23. Russia returned “fire” with the expulsion of several foreign diplomats, and a demand that Britain scale back its diplomatic mission in Russia – affecting over 50 jobs.
Russia’s Ambassador to the UK, Alexander Yakovenko, says that London’s reluctance to share information on the March 4 poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal has led Moscow to suggest that London authorities actually perpetrated the crime.
“We have very serious suspicion that this provocation was done by British intelligence,” Yakovenko told Russia’s NTV channel – adding however that Moscow had no direct proof, but that the UK’s behavior constitutes strong circumstantial evidence in support of their theory.
UK can’t confirm origin
Adding to the reasons for concern over what many are calling a rush to judgement over the Skripal attack, the chief scientist from the UK’s Porton Down military laboratory facility, Gary Aitkenhead, told Sky News that they had been unable to prove that the novichok nerve agent used to poison the Skripals came from Russia.
Sky News✔@SkyNews#Salisbury attack: Scientists have not been able to prove that Russia made the nerve agent used in the spy poisoning. Porton Down lab’s chief exec reveals the details in this interview
“We were able to identify it as novichok, to identify that it was military-grade nerve agent,” Aitkenhead said. “We have not identified the precise source, but we have provided the scientific info to government who have then used a number of other sources to piece together the conclusions you have come to.”
The chief scientist said that establishing the Novichok’s origin required “other inputs,” some of which are intelligence based and which only the government has access to.
Aitkenhead added: “It is our job to provide the scientific evidence of what this particular nerve agent is, we identified that it is from this particular family and that it is a military grade, but it is not our job to say where it was manufactured.”
And with that, it looks like the Skripals will be whisked away to the United States to live out the rest of their lives under new identities.