Russian suspects in spy poisoning drama claim they traveled to U.K. as tourists

LONDON — It was an in-and-out trip. Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov were in the United Kingdom for less than 60 hours when, according to British officials, they poisoned ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter with a rare nerve agent.

During that brief time the alleged Russian intelligence officials managed two trips to Skripal's small hometown of Salisbury — one apparent reconnaissance mission, and a second time to carry out the attempted murder, police say.

On Thursday, more than six months after the major incident that heightened tensions between Russia and the West, Petrov and Boshirov appeared in public for the first time and said there was an innocent explanation for their quick trip to the U.K.: they came as tourists.

"Our friends had been suggesting for a long time that we visit this wonderful town," Petrov said in an interview with Kremlin-funded broadcaster RT.

24 PHOTOS
The case of Sergei Skripal's poisoning
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The case of Sergei Skripal's poisoning
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - MARCH 08: Forensic police officers wearing hazmat suits examine a vehicle believed to belong to Sergei Skripal on March 8, 2018 in Salisbury, England. Police investigations continue into the use of a nerve agent to poison Sergei Skripal, who was found ill in a Salisbury park with his daughter on March 4. Both Sergei Skripal and his daughter remain in critical condition in hospital. Sergei Skripal was granted refuge in the UK following a spy swap between the US and Russia in 2010. (Photo by Rufus Cox/Getty Images)
Chairs are seen on tables inside the Mill pub which former Russian inteligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia visited before they were found poisoned on a bench nearby in Salisbury, Britain, March 11, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - MARCH 06: Witness Freya Church, 27, walks with a policeman near a forensic tent where Sergei Skripal, 66 and his duaghter Yulia Skripal, in her 30s, were found unconscious in Salisbury town centre two days previously on March 6, 2018 in Salisbury, England. Sergei Skripal who was granted refuge in the UK following a 'spy swap' between the US and Russia in 2010 and his daughter remain critically ill after being exposed to an 'unknown substance'. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Londoners pass-by the London newspaper Evening Standard's latest headline about ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal's suspected poisoning by Russia in southern England, on 6th March 2018, in the capital's financial district, the City of London, England. As both Skripal and a woman believed to be his daughter Ylulia remain in a critical condition at Salisbury hospital where he was taken ill on Sunday 4th, British Counter Terrorism Police have taken over the investigation from the local Wiltshire force. The British press have been quick in blaming President Putin's involvement just weeks before his Presidential re-election. (Photo by Richard Baker In Pictures via getty Images)
Former Russian military intelligence colonel Sergei Skripal attends a hearing at the Moscow District Military Court in Moscow on August 9, 2006. Sergei Skripal, a former Russian double agent whose mysterious collapse in England sparked concerns of a possible poisoning by Moscow, has been living in Britain since a high-profile spy swap in 2010. Police were probing his exposure to an unknown substance, which left him unconscious on a bench in the city of Salisbury and saw media draw parallels to the case of Alexander Litvinenko, an ex-spy who died of radioactive polonium poisoning in 2006. / AFP PHOTO / Kommersant Photo / Yuri SENATOROV / Russia OUT (Photo credit should read YURI SENATOROV/AFP/Getty Images)
A forensics tent covers the bench, where Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found slumped, in a cordoned off area in the centre of Salisbury, Britain, March 7, 2018. REUTERS/Toby Melville
Police officers seal off the road on which Russian Sergei Skripal and his daughter have been staying in Salisbury, Britain, March 7, 2018. REUTERS/Toby Melville
Police officers stand on duty outside a restaurant which has been secured as part of the investigation into the poisoning of former Russian inteligence agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, in Salisbury, Britain March 11, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - MARCH 07: Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley (R) and Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies give a statement on March 7, 2018 in Salisbury, England. Sergei Skripal, who was granted refuge in the UK following a 'spy swap' between the US and Russia in 2010, and his daughter remain critically ill after being exposed to an 'unknown substance'. A police officer who was the first to attend the scene is now also in a serious condition in hospital. Police are treating the suspected poisoning as attempted murder by nerve agent. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
Police officers stand on duty outside a pub which has been secured as part of the investigation into the poisoning of former Russian intelligence agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, in Salisbury, Britain March 12, 2018. REUTERS/ Henry Nicholls
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - MARCH 07: Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley leaves after giving a statement on March 7, 2018 in Salisbury, England. Sergei Skripal, who was granted refuge in the UK following a 'spy swap' between the US and Russia in 2010, and his daughter remain critically ill after being exposed to an 'unknown substance'. A police officer who was the first to attend the scene is now also in a serious condition in hospital. Police are treating the suspected poisoning as attempted murder by nerve agent. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - MARCH 08: Forensic police officers wearing hazmat suits examine a vehicle believed to belong to Sergei Skripal on March 8, 2018 in Salisbury, England. Police investigations continue into the use of a nerve agent to poison Sergei Skripal, who was found ill in a Salisbury park with his daughter on March 4. Both Sergei Skripal and his daughter remain in critical condition in hospital. Sergei Skripal was granted refuge in the UK following a spy swap between the US and Russia in 2010. (Photo by Rufus Cox/Getty Images)
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - MARCH 07: Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley (R) and Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies give a statement on March 7, 2018 in Salisbury, England. Sergei Skripal, who was granted refuge in the UK following a 'spy swap' between the US and Russia in 2010, and his daughter remain critically ill after being exposed to an 'unknown substance'. A police officer who was the first to attend the scene is now also in a serious condition in hospital. Police are treating the suspected poisoning as attempted murder by nerve agent. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
Police officers stand on duty outside a pub which has been secured as part of the investigation into the poisoning of former Russian intelligence agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, in Salisbury, Britain March 12, 2018. REUTERS/ Henry Nicholls
Londoners pass-by the London newspaper Evening Standard's latest headline about ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal's suspected poisoning by Russia in southern England, on 6th March 2018, in the capital's financial district, the City of London, England. As both Skripal and a woman believed to be his daughter Ylulia remain in a critical condition at Salisbury hospital where he was taken ill on Sunday 4th, British Counter Terrorism Police have taken over the investigation from the local Wiltshire force. The British press have been quick in blaming President Putin's involvement just weeks before his Presidential re-election. (Photo by Richard Baker In Pictures via getty Images)
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - MARCH 07: A police tent is seen behind a cordon outside The Maltings shopping centre where a man and a woman were found critically ill on a bench on March 4 and taken to hospital sparking a major incident, on March 7, 2018 in Wiltshire, England. Sergei Skripal, who was granted refuge in the UK following a 'spy swap' between the US and Russia in 2010, and his daughter remain critically ill after being exposed to an 'unknown substance'. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
Former Russian military intelligence colonel Sergei Skripal attends a hearing at the Moscow District Military Court in Moscow on August 9, 2006. Sergei Skripal, a former Russian double agent whose mysterious collapse in England sparked concerns of a possible poisoning by Moscow, has been living in Britain since a high-profile spy swap in 2010. Police were probing his exposure to an unknown substance, which left him unconscious on a bench in the city of Salisbury and saw media draw parallels to the case of Alexander Litvinenko, an ex-spy who died of radioactive polonium poisoning in 2006. / AFP PHOTO / Kommersant Photo / Yuri SENATOROV / Russia OUT (Photo credit should read YURI SENATOROV/AFP/Getty Images)
A tent covers the park bench where former Russian intelligence agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found after they were poisoned, in Salisbury, Britain March 12, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
A tent covers the park bench where former Russian intelligence agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found after they were poisoned, in Salisbury, Britain March 12, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
A police officer stands at a cordon around the bench where former Russian inteligence agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found after they were poisoned, in Salisbury, Britain March 11, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Britain's Home Secretary Amber Rudd, accompanied by Temporary Chief Constable Kier Pritchard, visits the scene where Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found after having been poisoned by a nerve agent in Salisbury, Britain, March 9, 2018. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
A police officer stands on duty outside a restaurant which has been secured as part of the investigation into the poisoning of former Russian inteligence agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, in Salisbury, March 11, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Police officers work at a supermarket near the bench where former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found poisoned, in Salisbury, Britain, March 12, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - MARCH 6, 2018: Pictured in this file image dated August 9, 2006, is retired colonel Sergei Skripal during a hearing at the Moscow District Court. File image/Press Office of Moscow District Military Court/TASS (Photo by TASS\TASS via Getty Images)
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"There's the famous Salisbury cathedral, famous not only in Europe but in the whole world," Boshirov added. "It's famous for its 123-meter spire, it's famous for its clock — one of the first ever created in the world that's still working."

Asked why they appeared nervous, Boshirov replied that this was because of the worldwide attention they had received.

"When your life is turned upside down in just one moment, in just one day it changed our lives," he said.

NBC News security analyst Duncan Gardham, among others, immediately dismissed this explanation as absurd.

"With this brazen circus, the Russian state is saying once again, 'We did it,'" he said. "Their lips move, words come out, but it is the action of putting these men forward that sends the message that Putin is proud of what they did."

The U.K. has been here before. In 2006, two Russians allegedly poisoned former spy Alexander Litvinenko in the British capital. An inquiry later found that President Vladimir Putin was "probably" behind the attack; one of the alleged assassins, Andrei Lugovoi, is now a lawmaker in the Russian parliament.

12 PHOTOS
Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, poisoning suspects
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Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, poisoning suspects
FILE PHOTO: Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, who were formally accused of attempting to murder former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, are seen in an image handed out by the Metropolitan Police in London, Britain September 5, 2018. Metroplitan Police handout via REUTERS/File Photo FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
ATTENTION EDITORS! CORRECTED CAPTION FOR TASS IMAGE ID TS090769, DATED 13 SEPTEMBER 2018. CORRECTED CAPTION FOLLOWS: 'MOSCOW, RUSSIA - SEPTEMBER 13, 2018: Ruslan Boshirov (L) and Alexander Petrov, suspected by the British authorities of poisoning former GRU officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, United Kingdom in March 2018, give an interview to the RT news channel. RT video screengrab/TASS' SORRY FOR ANY INCONVENIENCE! (Photo by TASS\TASS via Getty Images)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - SEPTEMBER 13, 2018: RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan shows an image of two men during an interview with Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, who are suspected by the British authorities of poisoning former GRU officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, United Kingdom in March 2018. RT video screengrab/TASS (Photo by TASS\TASS via Getty Images)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - SEPTEMBER 13, 2018: RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan shows images of two men during an interview with Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, who are suspected by the British authorities of poisoning former GRU officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, United Kingdom in March 2018. RT video screengrab/TASS (Photo by TASS\TASS via Getty Images)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - SEPTEMBER 13, 2018: Ruslan Boshirov, suspected by the British authorities of poisoning former GRU officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, United Kingdom in March 2018, gives an interview to the RT news channel. RT video screengrab/TASS (Photo by TASS\TASS via Getty Images)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - SEPTEMBER 13, 2018: Alexander Petrov, suspected by the British authorities of poisoning former GRU officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, United Kingdom in March 2018, gives an interview to the RT news channel. RT video screengrab/TASS (Photo by TASS\TASS via Getty Images)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - SEPTEMBER 13, 2018: Alexander Petrov (L) and Ruslan Boshirov, suspected of poisoning former GRU officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, United Kingdom in March 2018, give an interview to the RT news channel. RT video screengrab/TASS (Photo by TASS\TASS via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 05: (EDITORS NOTE: Alternative crop of image 1027065702.) In this handout photo issued by the Metropolitan Police, Salisbury Novichok poisoning suspects Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov are shown on CCTV on Fisherton Road, Salisbury at 13:05hrs on 04 March 2018, released on September 05, 2018 in London, England. Two Russian nationals using the names Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov have been named as suspects in the attempted murder of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia March, 2018. (Photo by Metropolitan Police via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 05: In this handout photo issued by the Metropolitan Police, Salisbury Novichok poisoning suspect Ruslan Boshirov is shown on CCTV at Gatwick airport at 15:00hrs on 02 March 2018, released on September 05, 2018 in London, England. Two Russian nationals using the names Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov have been named as suspects in the attempted murder of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia March, 2018. (Photo by Metropolitan Police via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 05: In this handout photo issued by the Metropolitan Police, Salisbury Novichok poisoning suspects Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov are shown on CCTV on Fisherton Road, Salisbury at 13:08hrs on 04 March 2018, released on September 05, 2018 in London, England. Two Russian nationals using the names Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov have been named as suspects in the attempted murder of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia March, 2018. (Photo by Metropolitan Police via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 05: In this handout photo issued by the Metropolitan Police, Salisbury Novichok poisoning suspect Alexander Petrov is shown on CCTV at Gatwick airport at 15:00hrs on 02 March 2018, released on September 05, 2018 in London, England. Two Russian nationals using the names Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov have been named as suspects in the attempted murder of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia March, 2018. (Photo by Metropolitan Police via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 05: In this handout photo issued by the Metropolitan Police, Salisbury Novichok poisoning suspects Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov are shown on CCTV at Salisbury train station at 16:11hrs on 03 March, 2018, released on September 05, 2018 in London, England. Two Russian nationals using the names Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov have been named as suspects in the attempted murder of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia March, 2018. (Photo by Metropolitan Police via Getty Images)
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Sergei and Yulia Skripal were poisoned in March with the Russian-made nerve agent Novichok. They later recovered but two apparent bystanders, Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley, became sick after coming into contact with the discarded container used in the attack. Sturgess later died.

British officials say they have identified the men as officers from Russia's military intelligence service, the GRU. Their names are believed to be aliases.

Prosecutors said earlier this month they they have enough evidence to charge the men with crimes including attempted murder. However, Russia does not extradite its own citizens and, like with Litvinenko's alleged killers, there is little chance they will ever face justice.

"This was not a rogue operation," Prime Minister Theresa May told lawmakers earlier this month. "It was almost certainly also approved outside the GRU at a senior level of the Russian state."

During their interview with RT, the pair denied this, instead saying they were in the sports-nutrition business. They also denied carrying the fake Nina Ricci perfume bottle in which investigators say the Novichok was transported.

"Isn't it silly for decent lads to have women's perfume?" Boshirov told RT. "The customs are checking everything, they would have questions as to why men have women's perfume in their luggage. We didn't have it."

If they were in Salisbury on a tourist visit they didn't stay long.

27 PHOTOS
Two Britons poisoned with Novichok nerve agent near where Russian spy was struck down
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Two Britons poisoned with Novichok nerve agent near where Russian spy was struck down
Forensic investigators, wearing protective suits, emerge from the rear of John Baker House, after it was confirmed that two people had been poisoned with the nerve-agent Novichok, in Amesbury, Britain, July 6, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Deputy Chief Constable of Wiltshire Police Paul Mills addresses the media outside the Bowman Centre community hall, after two people were hospitalised and police declared a 'major incident', in Amesbury, Wiltshire, Britain, July 4, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Deputy Chief Constable of Wiltshire Police Paul Mills addresses the media outside the Bowman Centre community hall, after two people were hospitalised and police declared a 'major incident', in Amesbury, Wiltshire, Britain, July 4, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Police officers guard outside a branch of Boots pharmacy, which has been cordoned off after two people were hospitalised and police declared a 'major incident', in Amesbury, Wiltshire, Britain, July 4, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Police officers stand next to a section of playing field near Amesbury Baptist Church, which has been cordoned off after two people were hospitalised and police declared a 'major incident', in Amesbury, Wiltshire, Britain, July 4, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Sam Hobson, aged 29, talks to television crews outside Amesbury Baptist Church, after describing himself as a friend of the two people who were hospitalised, and as a result, police declared a 'major incident', in Amesbury, Wiltshire, Britain, July 4, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
A police officer stands in front of Amesbury Baptist Church, which has been cordoned off after two people were hospitalised and police declared a 'major incident', in Amesbury, Wiltshire, Britain, July 4, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Fire and Rescue Service safety equipment lies on the ground at the site of a housing estate on Muggleton Road, after it was confirmed that two people had been poisoned with the nerve-agent Novichok, in Amesbury, Britain, July 6, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Police officers stand in front of a housing development on Muggleton Road, which has been cordoned off after two people were hospitalised and police declared a 'major incident', in Amesbury, Wiltshire, Britain, July 4, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
A police officer stands in front of Amesbury Baptist Church, which has been cordoned off after two people were hospitalised and police declared a 'major incident', in Amesbury, Wiltshire, Britain, July 4, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Wiltshire Police Chief Constable Kier Pritchard speaks at a news conference at Antrobus House, after it was confirmed that two people had been poisoned with the nerve-agent Novichok, in Amesbury, Britain, July 5, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Police officers stand in front of Amesbury Baptist Church, which has been cordoned off after two people were hospitalised and police declared a 'major incident', in Amesbury, Wiltshire, Britain, July 4, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Police officers guard the entrance to a housing estate on Muggleton Road, after it was confirmed that two people had been poisoned with the nerve-agent Novichok, in Amesbury, Britain, July 5, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
A police officer stands in front of a housing development on Muggleton Road, which has been cordoned off after two people were hospitalised and police declared a 'major incident', in Amesbury, Wiltshire, Britain, July 4, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
A police officer stands in front of a housing development on Muggleton Road, which has been cordoned off after two people were hospitalised and police declared a 'major incident', in Amesbury, Wiltshire, Britain, July 4, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - JULY 04: Police officers stand at a cordon around a public litter bin next to a supported housing project, thought to be connected to a man and woman from Amesbury who are in hospital after being exposed to an unknown substance on July 4, 2018 in Salisbury, England. The pair, who are in their 40s, are in a critical condition after being found unconscious at an address in Muggleton Road, Amesbury. The town is around 10 miles from Salisbury where former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in a suspected nerve agent attack. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - JULY 04: A police officer stands at a cordon around a public litter bin next to a supported housing project in Salisbury, thought to be connected to a man and woman from Amesbury who are in hospital after being exposed to an unknown substance on July 4, 2018 in Salisbury, England. The pair, who are in their 40s, are in a critical condition after being found unconscious at an address in Muggleton Road, Amesbury. The town is around 10 miles from Salisbury where former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in a suspected nerve agent attack. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - JULY 04: A police officer stands at a cordon around a public litter bin next to a supported housing project in Salisbury, thought to be connected to a man and woman from Amesbury who are in hospital after being exposed to an unknown substance on July 4, 2018 in Salisbury, England. The pair, who are in their 40s, are in a critical condition after being found unconscious at an address in Muggleton Road, Amesbury. The town is around 10 miles from Salisbury where former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in a suspected nerve agent attack. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
Deputy Chief Constable Paul Mills give a statement to the media outside the Bowman Centre in Amesbury, north of Salisbury, southern England, on July 4, 2018. - Two people have been hospitalised in a critical condition for exposure to an 'unknown substance' in the same British city where former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a nerve agent earlier this year. British police declared a 'major incident' after the couple, a man and a woman in their 40s, were discovered unconscious at a house in a quiet, newly-built area in Amesbury. (Photo by Geoff CADDICK / AFP) (Photo credit should read GEOFF CADDICK/AFP/Getty Images)
AMESBURY, ENGLAND - JULY 04: Police officers stand at a cordon around an area of grass near to Amesbury Baptist Centre as Wiltshire Police declare a major incident after a man and woman were exposed to an unknown substance on July 4, 2018 in Amesbury, England. The pair, who are in their 40s, are in a critical condition after being found unconscious at an address in Muggleton Road, Amesbury. The town is around 10 miles from Salisbury where former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in a suspected nerve agent attack. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
AMESBURY, ENGLAND - JULY 04: Police on the scene outside an Amesbury branch of Boots pharmacy as Wiltshire Police declare a major incident after a man and woman were exposed to an unknown substance on July 4, 2018 in Amesbury, England. The pair, who are in their 40s, are in a critical condition after being found unconscious at an address in Muggleton Road Amesbury. The town is around 10 miles from Salisbury where former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in a suspected nerve agent attack. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - JULY 04: Police officers on the scene outside Harcourt Medical Centre by Queen Elizabeth Gardens in Salisbury, thought to be connected to a man and woman in Amesbury who are in hospital after being exposed to an unknown substance on July 4, 2018 in Salisbury, England. The pair, who are in their 40s, are in a critical condition after being found unconscious at an address in Muggleton Road, Amesbury. The town is around 10 miles from Salisbury where former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in a suspected nerve agent attack. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
A police officer stands guard behind a housing estate on Muggleton Road, after it was confirmed that two people had been poisoned with the nerve-agent Novichok, in Amesbury, Britain, July 6, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - JULY 04: A police cordon is in place at Queen Elizabeth Gardens in Salisbury, thought to be connected to a man and woman in Amesbury who are in hospital after being exposed to an unknown substance on July 4, 2018 in Salisbury, England. The pair, who are in their 40s, are in a critical condition after being found unconscious at an address in Muggleton Road, Amesbury. The town is around 10 miles from Salisbury where former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in a suspected nerve agent attack. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - JULY 04: A police officer stands at a cordon at Queen Elizabeth Gardens in Salisbury, thought to be connected to a man and woman in Amesbury who are in hospital after being exposed to an unknown substance on July 4, 2018 in Salisbury, England. The pair, who are in their 40s, are in a critical condition after being found unconscious at an address in Muggleton Road, Amesbury. The town is around 10 miles from Salisbury where former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in a suspected nerve agent attack. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
Forensic investigators wearing protective suits enter the rear of John Baker House, after it was confirmed that two people had been poisoned with the nerve-agent Novichok, in Amesbury, Britain, July 6, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Police cordon around Queen Elizabeth Gardens in Salisbury, Wiltshire, near to Amesbury where a major incident has been declared after it was suspected that two people might have been exposed to an unknown substance. (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
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They flew from Moscow to London on Friday, March 2. The next day they took the train to Salisbury, around 80 miles outside of London, but stayed less than two hours, a likely recon mission according to police.

The took the same journey again Sunday. That's when police said security-camera footage placed them in the immediate vicinity of the Skripals' home just before noon.

They soon left and were back in London by 4 p.m., boarding a flight back to Moscow later that night.

They told RT they planned to stay longer and see other attractions but their trip was cut short by bad weather.

"We lasted for only half an hour because it was covered in snow," Petrov said.

"Of course, we went there to see Stonehenge, Old Sarum," he added, referring to two English archaeological sites, "but we couldn't do it because there was muddy slush everywhere. The town was covered by this slush. We got wet, took the nearest train and came back" to London.

Boshirov added a different explanation — they fell victim to bad railway connections.

"We spent no more than an hour in Salisbury, mainly because of the lags between trains," he said. "Maybe we did [unwittingly approach] Skripal's house, but we don't know where is it located."

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