Last week, the UK authorities said they had identified Russian nationals Petrov and Boshriov as the suspects in the Salisbury case. Moreover, UK Prime Minister Theresa May accused Russian military intelligence of orchestrating the poisoning under the order of the central authorities. In an interview with Margarita Simonyan, the two men said that they are not military intelligence agents, but middle-level entrepreneurs. They also confirmed they visited Salisbury but as tourists, adding that they had arrived in the UK city of Salisbury on March 3 and spent no more than an hour there.
"I believe it was manufactured by the MI6 with US encouragement and assistance, to discredit the Russian Federation from the start, to present it as a user of chemical weapons and place it on a par with Bashar Assad's Syria as a pariah state," Gilbert Doctorow said.
The analyst further noted that each episode in the Skripal saga has occurred at a critical moment for Russia. "The poisoning itself just weeks before the March presidential elections, further revelations became known just before the opening of the World Cup, and now the release of 4 month old CCTV pictures just prior to the Russian backed Syrian offensive to crush jihadists in Idlib province," Doctorow said.
According to the analyst, all stages managed to do maximum damage to Russia's image in the international community and the testimony of the two suspects amounts to a direct refutation of the entire case and "facts" or "evidence" presented by London to support their story on the poisoning. Doctorow said that there are only two conclusions possible:
"Or B) that the Russians are lying from start to finish and these two suspects should be properly interrogated by neutral third parties. I personally believe in the "A" case," he continued.
"However, whatever one's persuasions may be, it is clear that the British and Russian accounts are in direct contradiction, so we are headed for a continued and still more dramatic political confrontation between the two countries and their allies," Doctorow concluded.
The Skripals were poisoned with what London claimed was the A234 nerve agent on March 4. The UK authorities accused Russia of organizing the attack, but Moscow has repeatedly denied any involvement in it.
Last week, the UK authorities said they had identified Russian nationals Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshriov as the suspects in the Salisbury case. Moreover, UK Prime Minister Theresa May accused Russian military intelligence of orchestrating the poisoning at the behest of the central authorities.
Russian authorities, in turn, said that the photos and names of the suspects released by London did not prove Moscow's involvement in the attack.
Moscow has insisted that the investigation into the Salisbury attack required a thorough analysis of data and close cooperation between Russia and the United Kingdom.