Britain stands in 'full support' of Czechs after Russian expulsions

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FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visits Brussels

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain stands in "full support" of the Czech Republic which foreign minister Dominic Raab said on Sunday had exposed the lengths Russian intelligence services will go to after Prague accused Moscow of involvement in an ammunition depot explosion.

Czech police said on Saturday they were searching for two men in connection with serious criminal activity carrying Russian passports in the names of Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, and that the men were in the country in days leading up to the blast at the Czech depot in 2014.

Those were the aliases used by two Russian military intelligence (GRU) officers who British prosecutors charged with the attempted poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia with the nerve agent Novichok in 2018. Moscow denied involvement in that incident.

"The UK stands in full support of our Czech allies, who have exposed the lengths that the GRU will go to in their attempts to conduct dangerous and malign operations – and highlights a disturbing pattern of behaviour following the attack in Salisbury," Raab said on Twitter.

Ties between Britain and Russia have plunged to post-Cold War lows, with London calling the country "the most acute threat to our security" in the Euro-Atlantic region in its foreign and defence policy statement last month.

In an interview conducted for the Andrew Marr Show on Friday, Russian Ambassador Andrei Kelin said he had not seen Raab for more than a year.

"In the recent year our relations have become worse..., even worse," Kelin said in the interview, which aired on Sunday.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; Editing by Dabid Clarke/Mark Heinrich)