France, Germany, US, UK say Salisbury incident a violation of UK’s territorial integrity by Russia
A joint statement by the UK, US, France and Germany says the poisoning of ex-double agent Sergei Skripal was a violation of Britain’s sovereignty by Russia and was the first offensive use of a chemical agent since World War II.
The incident, in which Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in Salisbury on March 4, involved “a military-grade nerve agent, of a type developed by Russia,” said the statement issued on Thursday. The four countries said the incident constituted “the first offensive use of a nerve agent in Europe since the Second World War.”
The document branded the incident “an assault on UK sovereignty,” adding it came in violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and international law. Washington, Paris and Berlin back the UK’s claim that Moscow was responsible for what they called “the attack.”
Russia should provide “full and complete disclosure” of Novichok – the nerve agent allegedly used to poison the Skripals – to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the statement urged.
Though France was one of the signatories to the statement, a spokesman for President Emmanuel Macron’s suggested earlier on Thursday that British Prime Minister Theresa May was prematurely accusing Russia of complicity in the incident. “We don’t do fantasy politics. Once the elements are proven then the time will come for decisions to be made,” Benjamin Griveaux told a news conference in Paris.
Also on Thursday, Moscow said that it had urged the UK to hand over samples of the chemical to the OPCW and relevant Russian authorities, but to no avail. Commenting on the row, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused Britain of refusing to share any evidence in the case, while making “insane” accusations.
London was reluctant to share “any factual information on the [Skripal] case,” she said. The Russian embassy in London has sent four requests to the Foreign Office calling for “extensive dialogue,” but received “formal replies that made no sense.”
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