E.U. Sanctions 4 Russians Over Skripal Poisoning

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The European Union sanctioned on Monday two senior Russian military intelligence officials and two of their officers blamed for poisoning a former Russian double agent in Britain last year, a decision Moscow dismissed as groundless.

The European Union’s travel bans and asset freezes included two men Britain has named as intelligence officers, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, who are accused of attempting to murder the former spy, Sergei V. Skripal. His daughter was also poisoned.

The men have denied any involvement in the spraying of a chemical weapon on Mr. Skripal’s front door in Salisbury, England, in March.

In response to the case, which has widened the already large diplomatic gulf between Russia and the West, the European bloc also sanctioned the head and deputy head of Russia’s military intelligence agency, the G.R.U., Igor Olegovich Kostyukov and Vladimir Stepanovich Alexseyev.

“These designations include the two G.R.U. officials, and the head and deputy head of the G.R.U. responsible for possession, transport and use in Salisbury of a toxic nerve agent,” the European Union said in a statement after foreign ministers approved the move.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt of Britainsaid the sanctions “deliver on our vow to take tough action against the reckless and irresponsible activities of the Russian military intelligence organization, the G.R.U., which put innocent British citizens in serious danger in Salisbury last year.”

The Kremlin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, rejected the decision.

“They are suspected groundlessly,” he told reporters on a conference call. “We have still not heard any evidence.”

Mr. Skripal, 66, a former colonel in Russia’s military intelligence who betrayed dozens of agents to Britain, and his daughter, Yulia, were found unconscious on a bench in the city of Salisbury on March 4.

Britain published video images of the two Russians accused in the case visiting Salisbury at the time of the assassination attempt. The men have claimed they were innocent tourists visiting Salisbury’s cathedral.

Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius of Lithuania said the sanctions were meant to send a message to Moscow.

“It was a message to Russia and to everyone who is considering using chemical weapons in the 21st century in the territory of sovereign states,” he said. “It’s not acceptable.”

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