Leaders of France, Germany, the United States and Canada voiced their “full confidence” in the British assessment that the two suspects —Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov — involved in the use of a chemical nerve agent in Salisbury, England, in March were from the Russian military intelligence service and that “this operation was almost certainly approved at a senior government level.”

Britain on September 5 charged the two alleged Russian military intelligence officers with the poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a former Russian intelligence officer who holds British citizenship, and his daughter Yulia.

The father and daughter were near death but eventually recovered, as did a police officer who came to their aid March 4 as they were slumped on a park bench. (Learn why nerve agents are so deadly.)

Close-ups of two men with their names below (© Metropolitan Police/AP Images)
British prosecutors charged two Russians, who likely used the aliases Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, with the nerve agent poisoning of a British citizen and his daughter in the English city of Salisbury. (© Metropolitan Police/AP Images)

Petrov and Boshirov are charged in absentia with conspiracy to murder, attempted murder and use of the nerve agent Novichok, a type originally developed in the former Soviet Union.

The world leaders in a September 6 joint statement noted that the United Kingdom’s analysis, independently verified by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, also concludes that the poisoning of two people in Amesbury, England, in June was caused by the same type of nerve agent. In the Amesbury case, Dawn Sturgess died, and her friend Charles Rowley was sickened, by a toxic chemical recovered in a small bottle in Rowley’s house.

In their statement, the world leaders said the British analysis “further strengthens our intent to continue to disrupt together the hostile activities of foreign intelligence networks on our territories, uphold the prohibition of chemical weapons, protect our citizens and defend ourselves from all forms of malign state activity directed against us and our societies.”

Earlier this year, the United States, the United Kingdom and other countries determined Russia was responsible for the attack on the Skripals and imposed sanctions. In March, the U.S. expelled dozens of Russian intelligence officers in response to the attack.