Friday, 16 November, 2018

Russian Federation summons British ambassador as it readies to expel diplomats

Ex UK ambassador makes an observation that unravels the Russian spy story Analysis
Ellis Copeland | 17 March, 2018, 13:14

The leaders of the United States, France and Germany joined Britain on Thursday in blaming Russian Federation for poisoning a former spy with a powerful nerve agent, condemning what they called the first attack with a nerve agent in Europe since World War II.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Thursday that Moscow would "certainly" expel some British diplomats in a tit-for-tat response.

"I am not sure how committed the British government is to that idea", said Fyodor Lukyanov, chairman of the Moscow-based Council of Foreign and Defense Policy, who sometimes advises Russia's government.

May also said Britain would clamp down on murky Russian money and strengthen its powers to impose sanctions on abusers of human rights.

Skripal, a former colonel in the GRU who betrayed dozens of Russian agents to British intelligence, and his daughter have been critically ill since March 4, when they were found unconscious on a bench.

Peskov on Thursday said Russian President Vladimir Putin would ultimately choose the option that "most suits Moscow's interests". "The credibility of this council will not survive if we fail to hold Russian Federation accountable".

Haley told the members of the security council that she has constantly heard how they oppose the use of chemical weapons. "And it is an affront to the rules-based system on which we and our worldwide partners depend".

The diplomats are due to leave London on March 20, RIA news agency quoted Russia's ambassador to Britain as saying.

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Moscow has refused to comply with Britain's demands unless the government provided samples of the poison collected by investigators. Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, today called the U.K.'s allegations "irresponsible" and suggested that the incident was meant as a "provocation" against Russian Federation.

He said Russian Federation would cooperate with the investigation but does not see Britain's willingness to reciprocate.

Johnson also said he had been heartened by strong expressions of support from the United States and other allies - although it remains unclear whether there will be a coordinated worldwide response to the Novichok attack.

Russian Federation has claimed that the nerve agent could have come from another former Soviet country, pointing to Moscow's foe, Ukraine.

United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said she believed Russian Federation was responsible for an alleged nerve agent attack on two people in Salisbury, England.

France, which on Wednesday had said it wanted proof of Russian involvement before deciding whether to take action against Moscow, appeared to change its position on Thursday, saying it agreed with the assessment of its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally Britain.

In a rare joint statement, US President Donald Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Theresa May said "there is no plausible alternative explanation" to Russian responsibility.

On Wednesday it also called for an urgent meeting of the U.N. Security Council to discuss the investigation.

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