Western security agencies have privately concluded that the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was poisoned by the country’s FSB domestic spy agency, in effect pointing the finger at the Kremlin for ordering the attack.
The stark conclusion has been shared between London, Berlin and Paris, among others, and underpins the decision this week by the UK and the EU to target the FSB chief, Alexander Bortnikov, with sanctions.
European leaders have been quick to accuse the Russian state of being responsible for Navalny’s poisoning in August, but remain reluctant to explicitly blame the agency they believe is responsible or President Vladimir Putin himself.
Western security sources, however, are confident about accusing the FSB in private, although the assertion is hard to test.
On Thursday, the European commission dropped the strongest hint yet, explaining the reasoning for the sanctioning of Bortnikov in an official release. It said Navalny was being “closely monitored by the Federal Security Service [FSB] of the Russian Federation during his journey to Siberia in August 2020”.