US, France, Germany join UK in blaming Russia for spy attack
The United States, France, and Germany joined Britain yesterday in condemning Russia for the nerve-agent poisoning of a former spy, calling it an "assault on UK sovereignty", as the Kremlin vowed to expel British diplomats soon in response to London's moves against Moscow.
Britain says that blame for the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the English city of Salisbury lies with the Russian state. Prime Minister Theresa May responded by expelling 23 Russian diplomats, severing high-level contacts with Moscow, and vowing to take both open and covert actions against Russian dirty money and "hostile state activity".
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Moscow would "certainly" expel some British diplomats soon in retaliation.
In a rare joint statement, May and US President Donald Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that "there is no plausible alternative explanation" to Russian responsibility for the poisoning.
"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," the leaders said, calling it "an assault on UK sovereignty" and "a breach of international laws."
The four-nation statement is the fruit of British efforts to enlist international support as it tries to hold Russia accountable for the March 4 attack that left the former Russian agent and his daughter in critical condition and a British police officer seriously ill.
Russia denies being the source of the nerve agent that poisoned the Skripals and has demanded Britain share samples collected by investigators. Britain says that the poison used was Novichok, a class of nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union toward the end of the Cold War.