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After the attack on the Skripals in Salisbury, a cathedral city southwest of London, Western nations imposed new economic sanctions and expelled about 150 Russian diplomats and other officials, many of them believed to be intelligence agents. Russia responded by ejecting a similar number of officials from those countries. Mr. Basu said the suspects were in Britain only briefly, flying in from Moscow on March 2, staying for two nights at the City Stay Hotel on Bow Road in East London, and flying back to Moscow on March 4. The dusty, low-cost hotel, with a patch of artificial grass in front, is next to a train station. After tracing the men’s movements to the hotel and determining which room they stayed in, Mr. Basu said, investigators examined the room on May 4 and “two swabs showed contamination of Novichok at levels below that which would cause concern for public health.” People who live and work in the area said they were dismayed not to have heard of the contamination earlier. “It’s a bit shocking that they waited until now, but I guess there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes that I’m not aware of,” said Andreia Paim, 24, a student who lives near the hotel. The men took a train to Salisbury on March 3, Mr. Basu said, adding that the trip “was for reconnaissance of the Salisbury area.” He said they had returned the next day to carry out the poisoning.

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