The attempted murder of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury constitutes “the first offensive use of a nerve agent in Europe since the Second World War”, according to joint statement released by France, Germany, the United States and the UK.
The statement continues:
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It is an assault on UK sovereignty and any such use by a State party is a clear violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and a breach of international law. It threatens the security of us all.
The rare joint statement, issued by President Donald Trump, President Emmanuel Macron, Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Theresa May blames Russia for the attack, saying there is “no plausible alternative explanation”.
You can read the full joint statement below
It goes on to say that “Russia’s failure to address the legitimate request by the UK government further underlines its responsibility”.
The statement then calls on Russia to “answer all questions related to the attack in Salisbury” and “live up to its responsibilities as a member of the UN Security Council to uphold international peace and security”.
There is rising international support for Britain in its stand against Russia over the last couple of days.
French President Emmanuel Macron confirmed earlier this morning that “France shares the UK’s conclusion that there is no other plausible explanation, and reiterates its solidarity with its ally”.
The statement from his office this morning said:
The Prime Minister informed the President of the investigation’s progress and the details of the measures announced the previous day.
Since the beginning of the week, the United Kingdom has kept France closely informed of the evidence gathered by British investigators, as well as elements showing Russia’s responsibility in the attack.
Macron separately told reporters that: “Everything leads us to believe that responsibility is in fact attributable to Russia.”
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Macron’s comments today are a volte-face from the muted reaction from Paris yesterday, when it said it was too early to decide on a response.
Benjamin Griveaux, an Elysee spokesman, said “once the elements are proven, decisions will be made” and dismissed May’s action against the Kremlin as “fantasy politics”.
Heiko Maas, Germany’s new foreign minister, used his inaugural speech yesterday to assert German support for the UK, saying: “we take the UK Government’s assessment very seriously.”
One thing is clear – this attack must have consequences. The perpetrators must be brought to justice.
Yesterday also saw the US administration publicly blaming Moscow for the attack on Skripal, condemning Russian aggression and supporting British retaliation.
The response was, by far, the strongest criticism of Russia yet made by this White House.
The Nato council will meet this afternoon in Brussels to discuss the situation.
Moscow continues to deny the allegations, with the Russian envoy telling the UN Security Council last night that May’s stance against Russia was itself “a threat to a sovereign state”.
The full statement reads: “We, the leaders of France, Germany, the United States and the United Kingdom, abhor the attack that took place against Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury, UK, on 4 March 2018.
The full joint statement
“A British police officer who was also exposed in the attack remains seriously ill, and the lives of many innocent British citizens have been threatened. We express our sympathies to them all, and our admiration for the UK police and emergency services for their courageous response.
“This use of a military-grade nerve agent, of a type developed by Russia, constitutes the first offensive use of a nerve agent in Europe since the Second World War.
“It is an assault on UK sovereignty and any such use by a State party is a clear violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and a breach of international law. It threatens the security of us all.
“The United Kingdom briefed thoroughly its allies that it was highly likely that Russia was responsible for the attack. We share the UK assessment that there is no plausible alternative explanation, and note that Russia´s failure to address the legitimate request by the UK government further underlines its responsibility.
“We call on Russia to address all questions related to the attack in Salisbury.
“Russia should in particular provide full and complete disclosure of the Novichok programme to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).Our concerns are also heightened against the background of a pattern of earlier irresponsible Russian behaviour.
“We call on Russia to live up to its responsibilities as a member of the UN Security Council to uphold international peace and security.”