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May to tell Putin at G20 to 'hand over' Skripal suspects - insisting 'it's not business as usual' with Russia

The Prime Minister might have become semi invisible at home - but she’s attempting to address some pretty big issues on the world stage in the dying weeks of her premiership.

Top of her list at this G20 in Osaka is delivering a tough message, "leader to leader", to President Putin - demanding that he hands over the Skripal suspects to face British justice.

She told me ahead of that meeting that "it’s not business as usual" with Russia - and warned that as soon as either of the suspects "set foot" outside the country, they would face efforts to bring them to justice.

It’s not business at usual and can’t be business as usual with Russia until they stop the sort of acts that we’ve seen them doing around the world.

Of course, we in the United Kingdom have seen the use of a nerve agent, a chemical weapon on the streets of Salisbury. I want to see the individuals against whom charges have been made being brought to justice.

Russia does not allow the extradition of its nationals but there are European arrest warrants out for those two individuals, and as soon as they set foot outside of Russia we will be making every effort to bring them to justice.

– Theresa May

But how willing will President Putin be to to listen? The signs aren’t great.

He’s prepared the ground with an interview in the FT where he still maintains Russia’s involvement has not been proved.

The Prime Minister this morning insisted: "The evidence is there. It has been made very clear by our authorities, and I expect those individuals to be brought to justice.

"I will be making my position very clear to President Putin," she added.

Later, she remained stony-faced as the two leaders came face to face, shaking hands before sitting down to discussions.

In our barefoot interview (even the PM took her shoes off to respect the rules of the Japanese theatre hosting us) the Prime Minister gave me the first insight into what life holds for her when she steps down.

I asked her: How will you feel when you shut the door of No 10 for the last time?

She would look back on "difficult and challenging times in relation to Brexit", she said, but was looking forward to returning to the backbenches.

The first suggestion that this Prime Minister is neither expecting, nor wanting, a position in the cabinet of whomsoever it is chosen to move in after her.

The UK believes Moscow’s GRU military intelligence agency was behind the attack on former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in March 2018, involving nerve agent Novichok.

Both survived the poison, but in July the same year, Dawn Sturgess died after coming into contact with Novichok, which is believed to have been in a perfume bottle.

Scotland Yard and the Crown Prosecution Service believe there is sufficient evidence to charge two Russians – known by the aliases Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov – with offences including conspiracy to murder over the attack on the Skripals.

Online investigation group Belingcat said Boshirov is actually the highly decorated Colonel Anatoliy Chepiga, and Petrov is a military doctor called Alexander Mishkin.

Suspects Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov. Credit: Metropolitan Police / PA