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23 Mar, 2018 14:27

Merkel, Macron convinced by London’s ‘evidence’ implicating Russia in Skripal case

Merkel, Macron convinced by London’s ‘evidence’ implicating Russia in Skripal case

The leaders of Germany and France say they have been given some evidence by the UK in support of its claim that the nerve agent used to poison Sergei Skripal was produced in Russia. They say the proof is “well-grounded”.

“[UK Prime Minister] Theresa May has provided us with some results [of the investigation],” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said at the joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron in Brussels on Friday. She added that the two countries will follow the British probe into the poisoning of the former Russia-UK double agent “closely” and are “convinced” that the conclusions that were made by the investigators so far are “already well-grounded.”

The chancellor also said she believes that an international probe by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) would likely provide the same results as the British one. She added that Germany and France were seeking to “coordinate” their reaction to the poisoning of Skripal, and both believe that some further reaction in addition to the recall of the EU ambassador to Russia is “necessary.”

Macron said that “there is no… plausible explanation” to the Salisbury incident other than Russia being behind the attack. He added that “all EU member states agree” on that allegation.

Skripal, 66, and his 33-year-old daughter have been in a critical condition in hospital since March 4, when they were found unconscious on a bench outside a shopping center in Salisbury. The man worked as a double agent for the UK intelligence agency MI6 and was jailed in Russia in 2006 for spying for Britain. He was later part of a “spy swap” in which Russia released four spies in exchange for 10 Russian agents.

The UK was swift to blame Moscow for the incident as it claimed that the “nerve agent” that was allegedly used to poison the ex-spy and his daughter was developed in the Soviet Union. British Prime Minister Theresa May then claimed that either the Russian government was responsible for the attack or that Russia had lost possession of some of the toxin. She also demanded that Russia respond to these accusations.

Russia repeatedly denied its involvement in the poisoning of Skripal. The Kremlin also said it would not accept groundless threats and ultimata from London. At the same time, Moscow repeatedly expressed its readiness to cooperate with the UK in the investigation of the issue.

London’s allies in the West were also quick to take its side in the situation around the ex-spy’s poisoning. US, French and German officials all said it was “highly likely” that Russia was behind the attack on Skripal even though no solid evidence supporting these claims has been presented so far.