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Putin says two Skripal poisoning suspects are ‘civilians’

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Russia’s Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that two men Britain suspects of poisoning former spy Sergei Skripal with military-grade nerve agent had been identified as “civilians” and were not criminals.

Putin urged the men to address the media and said there was “nothing criminal” about them, as he spoke at an economic forum in the far eastern city of Vladivostok.

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“We know who they are, we have found them,” Putin said during an event with Japan’s Shinzo Abe and China’s Xi Jinping.

“They are civilians, of course,” he said, apparently responding to a claim by the British authorities that the two suspects are members of Russia’s military intelligence agency.

Putin urged the men to speak to journalists.

“I hope they will turn up themselves and tell about themselves,” he said in comments that hinted they will make a public statement shortly.

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“There is nothing special there, nothing criminal, I assure you. We’ll see in the near future.”

British authorities have issued European arrest warrants for Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, two suspected members of Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU.

They are accused of trying to kill Russian former spy Skripal and his daughter Yulia with the Novichok nerve agent in the English city of Salisbury on March 4, in an attack London believes was sanctioned by the Kremlin.

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The British government has said Putin is ultimately responsible for the attack, a claim the Kremlin has furiously denied.

London and its allies expelled dozens of Russian diplomats after the poisoning, prompting a tit-for-tat response from Moscow and plunging relations to a new low.

The Skripals survived the poisoning but a local man, Charlie Rowley, picked up a fake perfume bottle containing Novichok weeks later.

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Rowley gave it to his girlfriend, Dawn Sturgess, who later died.

British prosecutors accuse Petrov and Boshirov of conspiracy to murder Skripal, attempted murder and the use of a banned chemical weapon.

They said they would not formally demand the men’s extradition, as Russia does not extradite its citizens, but have obtained a European Arrest Warrant for the pair.

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The case has strong echoes of the poisoning of ex-Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko in Britain in 2006.

Britain said Russians Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun were behind what it said was a likely Kremlin-backed killing, but the pair have never been tried and Lugovoi has since become a lawmaker in Russia.


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The 4 big questions that the next Israeli government will decide

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On Sept. 17, Israelis went to the polls for the second time in less than six months.

They were voting again because – for the first time in the country’s history – a coalition government could not be assembled after the last election took place on April 9. To everyone’s surprise, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – long renowned for his political skills and deals – failed to form the right-wing governing coalition he wanted. He was one seat short of securing a majority in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset.

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Trump taps Mike Pompeo lieutenant as new national security adviser

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President Donald Trump has announced a new national security adviser.

The president abruptly fired John Bolton last week via tweet, and he tweeted out the announcement Wednesday morning of Robert O’Brien as a replacement.

"I am pleased to announce that I will name Robert C. O’Brien, currently serving as the very successful Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs at the State Department, as our new National Security Advisor," the president tweeted. "I have worked long & hard with Robert. He will do a great job!"

O'Brien has worked alongside Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who had been considered for a dual role leading the national security council.

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Ahead of climate strike, Greta Thunberg tells US lawmakers to their faces: sorry, you’re not trying ‘hard enough’

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"Don't invite us here to just tell us how inspiring we are without actually doing anything about it because it doesn't lead to anything."

"Please save your praise. We don't want it."

That was the blunt message 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg delivered directly to U.S. lawmakers Tuesday during a meeting of the Senate Climate Change Task Force, which featured testimony from young environmentalists demanding that members of Congress treat the ecological crisis with the urgency it deserves.

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