Vladimir Putin 'wants to kill again with Novichok poison in the UK', warns Defence Secretary Grant Shapps

25 February 2024, 09:30

Grant Shapps
Grant Shapps. Picture: Alamy

By Kit Heren

Grant Shapps has said that Vladimir Putin wants to kill again on the streets of Britain.

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The Defence Secretary said that the Russian president thinks that assassinations in the UK make him look strong.

Referencing the fatal 2018 Novichok poisonings, Mr Shapps said: “Look what happened in Salisbury. We’ve seen what Putin is capable of.

“His behaviour makes him a pariah. He thinks the more he does it the stronger he gets.

“But in the eyes of the world it makes him more desperate and weaker," he told the Sun.

Read more: Alexei Navalny's body handed to mother after 'three-hour ultimatum' over late Russian opposition figure's burial

Read more: Putin plans to launch ‘killing spree’ against Russia critics in the UK after Alexei Navalny 'murder'

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Asked if Putin would be capable of striking with Novichok in the UK again, he said: “We are always tracking and trying to prevent those things.

“But do I think he has intent? You have seen that. So, yes.”

Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned with Novichok nerve agent in Salisbury, in March 2018. They survived, but British woman Dawn Sturgess died after coming into contact with the bottle holding the poison.

The UK said the poisoning was carried out by two Russian agents.

Grant Shapps
Grant Shapps. Picture: Alamy

Mr Shapps was speaking after the body of Alexei Navalny had been handed back to his mother, over a week after his death in a remote Russian prison, where he was being held on charges widely held to be politically motivated.

Many in the West have blamed Putin for the death of Navalny, a fierce Kremlin critic.

Mr Shapps said: Putin has Navalny’s blood on his hands. Navalny should never have been in prison.

Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin. Picture: Getty

"His crime was standing up to an autocratic and now dictatorial Putin, who has a long history of bumping off his opponents.

“He does it at home and abroad. And the world must not waver or bend to that kind of squalid leadership.

"We know what happens when you do — you end up with the mess of the last century.”

Alexei Navalny in 2019
Alexei Navalny in 2019. Picture: Getty

Lyudmila Navalnaya said she was given a "three-hour ultimatum" by Russian officials to agree to a "secret" burial of her son if she wanted custody of his body.

If she disagreed, Russian officials were set to bury Mr Navalny, 47, at the Arctic penal colony where he died.

Navalny's spokesperson Kira Yarmysh made the announcement on X, thanking everybody who had demanded the return of his body. She said the funeral "is yet to take place".

"We don't know whether the authorities will interfere with it being carried out in the way the family wants and as Alexei deserves."