The European Union has put sanctions on senior officials from Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU, nearly a year after a former Russian spy and his daughter were poisoned in the British city of Salisbury, according to a decision granted by the bloc’s Foreign Affairs ministers.
The new sanctions have targeted four prominent Russian intelligence agents, all of whom are believed to be in Russia, and included Igor Kostyukov and Vladimir Alexseyev, the chief and deputy head of the GRU, as well as the two agents who are widely believed to have carried out the attack.
Two of the four face criminal charged in the United Kingdom, but Russia does not allow its citizens to be extradited under any circumstances. Those two have been identified as and listed by the EU under the new sanctions as Anatoly Chepiga (aka Ruslan Boshirov) and Alexander Mishkin (aka Alexander Petrov). Both are GRU field officers who have been identified as the key suspects “possessed, transported and then, during the weekend of March 4, 2018, used a Soviet-era toxic nerve agent known as Novichok to poison Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.
In September of last year, the UK Crown Prosecution Service charged both men for conspiring to murder the Skripals and for the use and possession of Novichok.Fullscreen Mode
The decision by EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels confirmed an earlier approval on behalf of the EU-28 from the previous week. The UK welcomed the action of the fellow EU members while Russia called the act a “negative move that would change nothing”.
The sanctions imposed ban the four from travelling to the EU and freezes any of their assets within the bloc. They also prevent any person or company in the EU from providing any financial support to the sanctioned individuals.
The move, however, is not likely to have a major effect on the four who were targeted as the Kremlin’s intelligence officers are officially barred from possessing assets outside of the Russian Federation.
The decision comes as the application premiere for the bloc of its new powers to sanction persons or entities connected to chemical weapons manufacture and use, which it created in October last year.