–UN to hold emergency meeting over spy attack

March 14, 2018

Britain will brief council members during the open meeting at 1900 GMT on the nerve agent that left ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in critical condition, the British mission to the United Nations said.

British Prime Minister Theresa May was expected to announce retaliatory action against Russia on Wednesday after Moscow rejected her “unfounded accusations” over the poisoning of a Russian former double agent on UK soil.

Relations between the two countries have deteriorated rapidly in the 10 days since ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were attacked with a nerve agent in sleepy Salisbury, southwest England.

Sergei Skripal and his daughter remain in a "serious condition" after being exposed to a nerve agent.

Sergei Skripal and his daughter remain in a “serious condition” after being exposed to a nerve agent.


The British premier said on Monday it was “highly likely” that Russia was behind the attack, either directly or because Moscow had “lost control” of the nerve agent, demanding answers by the end of Tuesday and threatening a “full range” of measures.

But Russia defied the deadline and President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman on Wednesday rejected Britain’s “unfounded accusations that are not based on evidence, and a language of ultimatums”.

“We are hoping that common sense will prevail,” Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

May is due to address parliament in the early afternoon after holding a meeting with her National Security Council to discuss the government’s next move.

‘Hitting economic targets’

The former director of Britain’s communications spying agency GCHQ, Robert Hannigan, said her response should include “the expulsion of diplomats on a scale we probably haven’t seen since the Cold War”.

Speaking to BBC radio, Hannigan also backed “hitting the economic targets”, including Russians doing business in London, but warned against a large-scale cyberattack.

Britain is wary of acting alone and has been rallying support from its allies.

“She believes that Russia is seeking to undermine the international rules-based system and that is something that we and are allies are obviously determined to defend,” May’s spokesman said on Tuesday.

In a phone call with US President Donald Trump, he and May “agreed on the need for consequences for those who use these heinous weapons in flagrant violation of international norms”, the White House said.

‘Reckless behaviour’

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on Tuesday spoke to his counterparts in France and Germany, as well as NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

If Russia is found responsible, “this would be further reckless behaviour which threatens the international community and requires an international response,” Johnson told them, according to the Foreign Office.

The spy saga comes at a particularly tense time for UK-EU relations, as the two sides are locked in Brexit talks, but Brussels’ support is “unequivocal, unwavering and very strong” according to European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans.

Stoltenberg said the incident was “of great concern” amid reports that Britain was consulting NATO allies about possibly invoking the alliance’s Article 5 principle of common defence. – All News First!

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