Britain is expected to request the extradition of two Russians accused of committing a nerve agent attack against a Russian double agent in southern England, British daily newspaper The Guardian reported on Monday.
British civil service and security sources told the newspaper that the government had finished preparing the request to the Russian government.
The decision, which the Russian government is expected to reject, is the culmination of an investigation by British authorities into the entry, activity and departure of the two Russian suspects.
Both are suspected of poisoning Sergei Skripal, a former double agent, and his daughter, Yulia, on March 4 with Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Sergei and Yulia later recovered from the attack.
British police believe Charlie Rowley, a local man who became sick after exposure to the nerve agent in June, later found the bottle used to smear Novichok on the Skripal’s door handle in the southern English town of Salisbury. He is believed to have then given the bottle to Dawn Sturgess, a local woman, who later died from her exposure to the substance.
The Russian government has repeatedly denied British accusations that it was responsible for the poisoning. The diplomatic dispute escalated shortly after the Skipals’ poisoning, with Britain and its allies expelling more than a hundred Russian diplomats in protest.
Russia has previously rejected similar extradition requests. In 2007, it dismissed a British request to extradite two men accused of assassinating former intelligence agent Alexander Litvinenko with polonium in London in 2006.