00:40 GMT +322 November 2019
Listen Live
    European Council Council Donald Tusk holds a joint press conference with the European Commission President after an informal meeting of the 27 EU heads of state or government at the European Council headquarters in Brussels on February 23, 2018

    'Highly Likely' Russia to Blame for Skripal Poisoning - EU Leaders

    © AFP 2019 / JOHN THYS
    Get short URL

    The EU Council president announced Thursday that he agrees with Britain's conclusion that it is "highly likely" that Russia is responsible for the Salisbury, England, nerve agent attack on March 4.

    EU President Donald Tusk said in a tweet Thursday that the "EUCO agrees with UK government" and that "there is no other plausible explanation." Officials have also agreed to recall the bloc's ambassador to Moscow "for consultations."

    "We decided to take home the EU ambassador to Russia," the EU Council’s press office said in a statement that quoted Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven head of state.

    Meanwhile, a source familiar with the matter confirmed to Sputnik that several EU nations were considering recalling their diplomats from Russia of expelling Russian diplomats over the poisoning scandal.

    Tusk's announcement comes hours after a statement from the UK government indicating that UK experts had identified the substance used in the attack. The statement was released after a meeting between UK Prime Minister Theresa May, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

    "The Prime Minister provided the President [Macron] and Chancellor [Merkel] with a detailed update on the investigation into the reckless use of a military nerve agent, of a type produced by Russia, on the streets of Salisbury," the statement reads. "She said there had been a positive identification of the chemical used as part of the Novichok group of nerve agents by our world leading scientists at Porton Down."

    "The UK, Germany and France reaffirmed that there is no plausible explanation other than that the Russian state was responsible," it added.

    "The leaders agreed on the importance of sending a strong European message in response to Russia's actions and agreed to remain in close contact in coming days."

    In response to the UK's repeated accusations that Russia is to blame, the Russian Foreign Ministry and the Russian Defense Ministry released a statement condemning the accusations.

    "Either the British authorities are unable to protect from a terrorist attack on their territory or staged the attack themselves," Vladimir Ermakov, the head of the non-proliferation and arms control department at the defense ministry, said in a statement March 21. "Russia owes nothing and can bear no responsibility for the actions or lack of actions on British soil."

    Vladimir Yermakov, director of the department for nonproliferation and arms control at the Russian Foreign Ministry, reiterated that Russia has asked for Britain to supply them with "all the information" surrounding the poisoning of Sergei Skripal in an effort to get to the bottom of the incident.

    "But we don't get anything," he remarked.

    Skripal, a former Russian intelligence officer turned British double agent, and his daughter, were targeted in a nerve agent attack earlier in the month.  They are both in critical condition, according to officials. Days after the attack, May accused Russia of orchestrating the incident and expelled 23 Russian diplomats from the country.


    Media Reports Second UK Policeman 'in Hospital' After Skripal Poisoning
    Czech Republic Refutes Involvement in Making Nerve Agent Used on Skripal - PM
    Russia's UK Envoy to EU on Skripal Case Reaction: 'Trust But Verify'
    OPCW Inspectors Reportedly Begin Work at Scene of Skripal Attack in Salisbury
    UK Reportedly Wants to Prod EU to Slap Sanctions on Russia Over Skripal Case
    Skripal poisoning, Sergei Skripal, Donald Tusk, Theresa May
    Community standardsDiscussion
    Comment via FacebookComment via Sputnik