Former GRU colonel Sergei Skripal, who was poisoned in the UK town of Salisbury in March, secretly visited Estonia in 2016, where he met with local intelligence officers, something that London possibly helped to organize, New York Times reported on Monday.
Having settled in the United Kingdom, Skripal traveled widely offering information on Russia and its network of foreign agents to foreign intelligence services, according to the New York Times newspaper, citing European officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
A senior European official with knowledge of the trip confirmed that Skripal secretly met with a group of Estonian intelligence officers in June 2016. The source did not disclose what was on agenda but described it as "very sensitive information," to the newspaper reported, adding that UK intelligence supposedly facilitated the meeting.
The newspaper also confirmed recent reports, published by Czech media, about Skripal’s meetings with Czech intelligence officers. According to the newspaper, citing a Czech official, Skripal met with local intelligence officers in Prague in 2012 and provided them with information on the Russian spy network in Europe. Though his data was outdated, Skripal reportedly turned out to be so helpful that such meetings continued in the United Kingdom.
The exchange of knowledge and expertise was likely to be the only way for the former spy to make a living, The New York Times concluded.
On March 4, Skripal and his daughter were found unconscious on a bench near a shopping mall in Salisbury. The UK authorities have blamed Russia for attempting to assassinate the Skripals with what is believed by London to be the A234 nerve agent. Russia has denied having any role in the poisoning, pointing to the lack of evidence provided by the United Kingdom to substantiate its accusations.
Skripal was convicted in Russia in 2006 for passing sensitive information to the United Kingdom's Secret Intelligence Service — MI6. He was allowed to move to the United Kingdom in 2010 as part of a spy swap and has lived there for eight years.