Published: Sat, March 24, 2018
Money | By Wilma Wheeler

Kremlin furious after Britain links Putin to ex-spy attack

Kremlin furious after Britain links Putin to ex-spy attack

LEADERS of Britain, the US, Germany and France have issued a joint statement blaming Russian Federation for the Salisbury poison attack.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she took the British findings seriously and there would be a common European stance, although "we must still talk responsibly" with Russian Federation despite differences of opinion.

May has said the Skripals were attacked with Novichok, a Soviet-era military-grade nerve agent.

"We take no pleasure in having to constantly criticize Russia", Nikki Haley, the USA ambassador to the United Nations, said in Security Council debate over the nerve-agent attack on Wednesday.

The statement says: "It is an assault on United Kingdom sovereignty and any such use by a State party is a clear violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and a breach of global law".

In the USA, the Federal Bureau of Investigation warned Thursday that Russian hackers are conducting a broad assault on the electric grid, water-processing plants, air transportation facilities and other infrastructure.

Britain and its allies on Thursday (Friday in Manila) blamed Moscow directly for a poison attack on a double agent in England, escalating diplomatic tensions as Washington separately announced sanctions against Russian Federation for allegedly meddling in its elections.

Writing in the Washington Post, Mr Johnson also said the poison used in the Salisbury spy attack was specifically chosen to send a message to political dissenters challenging Russian president Vladimir Putin.

The leaders did not say what, if any, actions they would take if Russian Federation does not comply.

May has directly accused President Vladimir Putin of being behind the attack.

Meanwhile, Russia is retaliating against the expelling British diplomats.

The military alliance's secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said the attack took place "against the backdrop of a reckless pattern of Russian behaviour" including its interference in Georgia and Ukraine, and attempts to subvert democratic elections.

Britain also received overwhelming support from its allies on the United Nations security council, including the US, amid heated debate on Wednesday night.

Russian Federation has denied any involvement in the attack.

She said there was "no alternative conclusion" than to believe Russian Federation was "culpable" for the poisonings.

The British ambassador to Moscow, Laurie Bristow, was summoned to the Foreign Ministry where he was told of the expulsions.

The White House says President Donald Trump has been "extremely tough on Russia" during his time in office.

The UK on Wednesday expelled 23 Russian diplomats in connection with the issue.

The war of words between Moscow and London over the poisoning of a former Russian spy escalated as Britain's outspoken Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said his government's "quarrel" was with Putin rather than the Russian people.

On Friday Russia said it could hit back at Britain at "any minute" with its own raft of punitive measures.

"Frankly Russia should go away, it should shut up", Britain's Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson, said at a meeting on Thursday, when asked about Russia's response so far.

"We don't want a new Cold War, we don't want a new arms race, Russian Federation is our neighbour therefore we have to continue to strive for an improved better relationship with Russian Federation", he told BBC radio.

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