President Vladimir Putin says Russia knows the real identity of two men accused by British prosecutors of trying to murder former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Britain.
British prosecutors last week identified two Russians who they said were operating under aliases - Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov - who they said had tried to murder the Skripals with a military-grade nerve agent in England.
Putin, speaking at an economic forum in the Russian port city of Vladivostok, said Russia had found the two men, that they were civilians, and there was nothing special or criminal about them and that he hoped they would come forward and tell the world their own story.
"We of course checked who these people are. We know who they are, we found them. Well, I hope they will come out themselves and speak about themselves. It will be better for everyone," he said.
"There's nothing particularly even criminal about it, I assure you. We'll see soon..."
"They are civilians of course. I would like to appeal to them so that they hear us today. They will come somewhere, to you, the mass media..."
UK Prime Minister Theresa May has previously said the attack was "almost certainly" approved at a "senior level" of the Russian state, while Security Minister Ben Wallace said Putin bore ultimate responsibility as head of the government in Moscow.
May's spokesman said later that Britain's attempts to get an explanation from Russia have always been met with obfuscation and lies.
"These men are officers of the Russian military intelligence service, the GRU ... The government has exposed the role of the GRU, its operatives and its methods, this position is supported by our international allies," the spokesman told reporters.
"We have repeatedly asked Russia to account for what happened in Salisbury in March and they have replied with obfuscation and lies. I can see nothing to suggest that has changed."
Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement in the incidents.
Skripal - a former colonel in Russian military intelligence who betrayed dozens of agents to Britain's MI6 foreign intelligence service - and his daughter were found slumped unconscious on a bench in the English city of Salisbury in March. They spent weeks in hospital before being discharged.
A woman near Salisbury, Dawn Sturgess, died in July and her partner Charlie Rowley fell ill after Rowley found a counterfeit bottle of Nina Ricci perfume containing Novichok and brought it home.
Australian Associated Press