My full analysis goes into some length on the smuggling of Novichok research out of the Russian Federation at the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the research done in the West on further developing Novichok agents. However, I did not want to get into a political discussion that would take a thread off topic.
However, now it has been reclassified, I would like to add: Fingerprinting the actual agent used to tie it with a particular lab or batch requires certain expertise and labs having access to a range of comparitor samples on their site. If the UK or their comrades have managed to fingerprint the samples, (a) it could confirm any Russian involvement, (b) it would confirm that they (UK, US, Czech etc) themselves held historic Novichok agents or were developing enhanced variants.
In the event of Russian involvement there are various possibilities:
• sleeper agents of the previous Soviet authorities acting on historic instructions without sanction from the new Russian authorities
• active agents of the current Russian Federation authorities acting on current instructions with sanction from the new Russian authorities
• independent freelance operatives operating on instruction from an official authority with sanction from that authority
• independent freelance operatives operating on instruction from an officer in an official authority without official sanction
• independent freelance operatives operating on instruction from criminal organizations such as the Russian mafia
The dissolution of the fraternal brotherhood of the Soviet Union resulted in Russian state owned assets, monetary and physical, being stolen and removed from Russia to former Soviet states and further afield to UK and other western states. Some of these stolen assets were military hardware and weapons, others were corporate funds, money and share ownership.
Even without official Government authorization, there are many criminal gangs from Russia and neighbouring states like The Ukraine who could be involved in the attempted murder of these people, but whoever was involved must have either been skilled to avoid exposure to the agent or they themselves would have been exposed when trying to deliver the agent to their target(s).