It seems the British has already lost count of all GRU-linked suspects in the Skripal poisnoning, which have appeared in its reports over the past few weeks.
A third Russian military intelligence officer who carried out a reconnaissance mission before the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal has been identified by counter terrorism police and the security services, the London Telegraph claimed on September 28.
The newspaper claimed that the Russian agent is believed to have visited Salisbury to help plan the attack before two of his colleagues brought weapons grade nerve agent into the UK.
The third GRU agent supposedly fed information back to the other two officers as they planned their attack on the Skripals’ home. The UK Metropolitan Police, which is in charge of the investigation into the Salisbury poisoning, had refused to comment on the issue.
Philip Ingram, a former intelligence and security officer, was cited by the Telegraph: “There was almost certainly intelligence on the ground before the attack was carried out, it is what is called a pattern of life study. They wouldn’t have turned up at the house and put it on the door handle on a whim.”
This report comes after the investigative group Bellingcat claimed that the real identity of one of the suspects in the nerve agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter is Anatoliy Chepiga, a highly-decorated colonel of the Russian military intelligence agency GRU. According to Bellingcat, Ruslan Boshirov provided a fake name, and revealed his identity, providing as proof very suspect documents.
The identity of Alexander Petrov, the other suspect has not yet been “revealed.” Both of them spoke in a video interview with RT’s Editor-in-Chief and said that Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov were their actual names and they were simply tourists visiting Salisbury.
President Vladimir Putin personally backed the claimsby Boshirov that he and Alexander Petrov were in Salisbury on a visit to the cathedral., which holds the original Magna Carta. He also denied that both men were GRU agents.
Bellingcat, though, claimed that Chepiga was given the identity of Boshirov at least eight years ago.
The claims of the investigative group had been criticized by Moscow. Particularly, Russian Foreign Minister Maria Zakharova has called them fake news aimed at diverting public attention from what happened in Salisbury.
This also follows a report by the Sunday Mirror from September 16th, then the outlet claimed that UK authorities are looking for a medic, nicknamed Dr. Novichok, and a fourth individual who allegedly helped Ruslan Boshirov (presumably Chepiga) and Alexander Petrov perpetrate the attack on former GRU colonel Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury in March. Authorities did not comment the possible additional suspects at that moment, too.
It is yet unclear if whether the new suspect is the 5th suspect in the Skripal case, or the 3rd.
Despite the lack of any conclusive evidence, the UK and US have imposed sanctions, in addition to numerous Russian diplomats being expelled from many countries. Russia has continued to deny any accusations that it had any part in any alleged poisoning or assassination attempt, which even failed to assassinate its targets.