The United States and two major European allies formally backed Britain’s claims of likely Russian links to a chemical toxin attack against a former spy, calling it the “first offensive use of a nerve agent” in Europe since World War II.
The joint statement from the leaders of France, Germany, the United States and Britain signaled another step in mounting international pressure on Russia over apparent ties to the assault.
The statement said the nations shared the view of British investigators of Russian ties to last week’s attack against a former double agent and his daughter
There was no “plausible alternative explanation,” the statement added, noting that Russia’s “failure to address the legitimate request by the U.K. government further underlines its responsibility.”
“It is an assault on U.K. sovereignty and any such use by a state party is a clear violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and a breach of international law,” said the statement, released by the office of the British prime minister.
“It threatens the security of us all,” it added, without spelling out any possible further reprisals by Britain and its allies.
The next move in the deepening standoff could come from Moscow.
Russia promised Thursday to respond “very soon” to Britain’s decision to expel 23 Russian diplomats, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said. The British move was taken in response to the use of an alleged Russian nerve agent against a former Russian spy on British soil last week.
“The answer will come very soon, I assure you,” Lavrov said. “You know that we as polite people will first communicate this response to our British colleagues.”
(c) 2018, The Washington Post · Matthew Bodner, Karla Adam