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5 Apr, 2018 16:41

We don’t know who poisoned Skripal, UK yet to prove it’s Moscow – German official

We don’t know who poisoned Skripal, UK yet to prove it’s Moscow – German official

The UK has yet to prove that Russia is culpable in the Skripal poisoning case, and recent revelations contradicting the claim have “raised the pressure” on London, a German government representative said.

Gernot Erler, who serves as the German government’s coordinator for Russia, said that London needed to cough up evidence of Moscow’s guilt after the UK’s Porton Down military research center said on Tuesday that it could not verify that the nerve agent used in the attack came from Russia.

“That contradicts what we had previously heard from British politicians and will certainly raise the pressure on Britain to show further proof that the traces plausibly point to Moscow,” Erler told German broadcaster ARD.

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson had previously said that scientists at Porton Down were “categorical” about the Russian origin of the nerve agent. After Tuesday’s disclosure, the UK Foreign Office deleted a similar Russia-blaming statement from its Twitter account.

Erler added that the contradictory statements coming from London now called into question the reliability of other claims made by Prime Minister Theresa May and her government. Citing classified intelligence reports, the UK government has suggested that Russian President Vladimir Putin may have ordered the nerve agent attack that targeted ex-double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury on March 4.

“These (reports) are not known publicly and now there is pressure for more of this information to be made known, otherwise the whole thing is not transparent,” he said.

Asked by ARD who is responsible for the attack, Erler stated simply: “We don’t know.”

Erler is the second German official this week to publicly rebuke the UK for its handling of the case. On Tuesday, Armin Laschet, the leader of North Rhine-Westphalia and a deputy chairman of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), tweeted: “If you force almost all NATO countries to show solidarity, shouldn’t you have sound evidence? You can think of Russia what you want, but I have learned a different way of dealing with states from studying international law.”

As part of a coordinated show of solidarity with the UK over the attack, Germany announced last month that it would expel four Russian diplomats over Moscow’s suspected involvement in the poisoning.

More than 100 Russian diplomats were ordered to leave EU and NATO states at the UK’s urging.

Moscow vehemently denies any involvement in the attack and has repeatedly called for a joint UK-Russia investigation into the incident – a request which, Moscow says, London continues to ignore.

Russian envoy to the UK Alexander Yakovenko on Thursday called for the investigation into the attack to be made as transparent as possible. It came after the governing body of the Organization for the Prohibition of the Chemical Weapons (OPCW) voted against a Russian-Chinese proposal which called for comprehensive, transparent cooperation between the UK and Russia in the ongoing inquiry.

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