In joint statement, UK, US, France, Germany condemn attack on Russian ex-spy

The countries called on Russia to address all questions related to the attack on former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

world Updated: Mar 15, 2018 21:11 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India, London/Washington
Britain,France,Germany
The joint statement was issued a day after British Prime Minister Theresa May announced the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats identified as “undeclared intelligence officers” in the single biggest such expulsion in around 30 years.(AFP File Photo)

Britain, France, Germany and the US on Thursday “abhorred” a nerve agent attack on former Russian spy and his daughter, saying it is an assault on the UK’s sovereignty and threatens the security of all nations.

In a rare joint statement, the four countries condemned the “first offensive use of a nerve agent in Europe since the Second World War” and called on Russia to address all questions related to the attack on former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the English city of Salisbury on March 4.

“We, the leaders of France, Germany, the United States and the United Kingdom, abhor the attack that took place against Sergei and Yulia Skripal,” they said.

The UK government has linked the attack to Soviet-designed nerve agents known as Novichok.

Novichok refers to a group of deadly chemical compounds reportedly developed by the Soviet government in the 1970s and 1980s, some of which were adopted by the Soviet army in 1990.

“Russia should, in particular, provide full and complete disclosure of the Novichok programme to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW),” the strongly-worded statement said.

The joint statement was issued a day after British Prime Minister Theresa May announced the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats identified as “undeclared intelligence officers” in the single biggest such expulsion in around 30 years.

Russia has said that it will retaliate with the expulsion of British diplomats from Moscow, describing the UK’s allegations of Russian culpability in the Skripals’ poisoning as “insane” and “absolutely boorish”.

The four world powers in the statement said that the 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 the United Kingdom’s 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 statement said.

“Our concerns are also heightened against the background of a pattern of earlier irresponsible Russian behavior. We call on Russia to live up to its responsibilities as a member of the UN Security Council to uphold international peace and security,” the joint statement said.

“The United Kingdom thoroughly briefed its allies that it was highly likely that Russia was responsible for the attack. We share the United Kingdom’s assessment that there is no plausible alternative explanation, and note that Russia´s failure to address the legitimate request by the government of the UK further underlines Russia’s responsibility,” statement said.

The attack on the former Russian spy, a British citizen, has revived fears of a new era of Cold War with Russia, with UK defence secretary Gavin Williamson admitting that relations with Russia were not good. “Some people say it might not be a cold war, but it is chilly,” he said.

First Published: Mar 15, 2018 21:10 IST