Saturday, 17 November, 2018

European Union to recall ambassador from Moscow over attack on ex-spy

Vehicles allegedly carrying British diplomats expelled by Russia leave the British Embassy in Moscow on Friday. — AP Vehicles allegedly carrying British diplomats expelled by Russia leave the British Embassy in Moscow on Friday. — AP
Patty Aguilar | 24 March, 2018, 15:11

The EU said it was highly likely that Russia was behind the nerve-agent attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter in Salisbury and could see no other plausible explanation for it. Speaking shortly after the summit ended, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said Prague would seriously consider expelling a number of Russian diplomats over the incident.

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, whose former Soviet state shares a border with Russia's Kaliningrad exclave, offered her full backing to Britain and said she was weighing whether to expel Russian diplomats from her country over the Salisbury attack.

Moscow charged on Wednesday that Britain either failed to protect a Russian national from what it termed a "terrorist attack" or was itself behind the poisoning of a former double agent in England.

He added: "We respect the decision of European states that want to go further, that take further steps, but there will be some European states that have chose to handle it exactly like us".

Mr Yakovenko's comments came as a United Kingdom judge ruled doctors will be able to take blood samples from the Skripals to send to experts at worldwide watchdog, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

He told Radio 4's World At One: "All fingers point towards Russia's involvement in this, and obviously the manufacture of the material was undertaken by the Russian state originally".

Tusk called the bloc's response "unprecedented", and said "more steps are expected at a national level" starting Monday.

Almost two dozen Russian diplomats expelled by Britain over the poisoning of an ex-spy have arrived home.

One senior European Union diplomat said that, for some governments, the lack of direct proof from London about Russia's involvement in the poisoning is a problem.

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According to draft conclusions seen by RFE/RL ahead of the summit, European Union leaders are set to ask foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini to look into ways to improve the 28-member bloc's strategic communication, counterintelligence, and cyberdefense in the wake of the attack in Britain.

Heads of states attend a meeting on the second day of a summit of European Union leaders at the European Council headquarters in Brussels, on March 23, 2018.

Mr Johnson had escalated the war of words with Moscow by suggesting that Vladimir Putin is hoping for a propaganda boost from this summer's World Cup similar to that which Hitler sought in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

"Britain has expelled 23 Russian diplomats it says were spies and suspended high-level contacts over the incident". According to Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte, "EU Ambassador to the Russian Federation recall for consultations in Brussels" out of the Skripal's poisoning.

"This is terminology from British TV shows", he said.

Highlighting the bloc's familiar divisions on how to handle Russia, Slovakia's new prime minister, Peter Pellegrini, said he wanted "constructive dialogue" with Moscow despite the poisoning of the Skripals.

Moscow "regrets" the EU's decision to recall its envoy from Russia, Lavrov said, going on to praise U.S. President Donald Trump's stance toward Russia.

The strong solidarity from the European Union - which Britain is due to leave next year - is a victory for British Prime Minister Theresa May's efforts to muster global condemnation of a chemical weapons attack on British soil.

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