Russia smeared nerve agent on door handle in risky plot that points to Putin: report
Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter collapsed on a bench after being exposed to an unknown substance. (Kommersant Photo/AFP / Yuri SENATOROV)

Russia smeared a deadly nerve agent on a door handle in its efforts to kill a defected spy, The New York Times reports.

According to the paper's sources, the targeting of Sergei V. Skripal involved an effort "so risky and sensitive that it is unlikely to have been undertaken without approval from the Kremlin."

Skripal was freed in a spy swap with the United States in 2010 and is in a coma and likely to die. His daughter, who was also sickened, is doing a little better.

This theory of the poisoning strengthens suspicions that top Russian officials were involved as this potent nerve agent requires a lot of training to handle safely.

“It’s a huge implication, if it was the door handle, because it means someone had to be in the U.K. with the material,” chemical expert Richard Guthrie told the paper. “Anything you create that would stick to the door handle, you’ve got to make it so that it would be removed from the door handle when it was handled, and not dropped off too quickly. That’s complicated chemistry.”