Netizen 24 GBR: Russian spy attack: UK encouraged by support from allies, says Johnson

By On March 13, 2018

Russian spy attack: UK encouraged by support from allies, says Johnson

Sergei Skripal Russian spy attack: UK encouraged by support from allies, says Johnson

British foreign secretary’s comments follow US secretary of state’s condemnation of attack

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson said the Kremlin must explain by midnight it if was behind the attack. Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images

The UK is encouraged by the “strength of support” from allies to take action against Russia after the nerve agent attack on the former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Boris Johnson has said.

The British foreign secretary said the Kremlin must explain by midnig ht on Tuesday it if was behind the attack, or if it had allowed the deadly nerve agent Novichok to fall into the wrong hands.

“If they can come up with a convincing explanation, then obviously we will want to see full disclosure of that to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in the Hague,” he said.

On Tuesday, the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said Russia had requested access to the substance to perform its own checks but the request had been refused.

The US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, said the attack “clearly came from Russia” and would have consequences. His remarks went further than those of prime minister, Theresa May, who told the House of Commons on Monday it was “highly likely” Russia was behind the attack.

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Should no credible explanation be given, the UK is likely to expel a number of diplomats, more than the four who were told to leave the UK after the death of former Russian security agent Alexander Litvinenko. The UK may also potentially mount a covert cyber-offensive against the Kremlin.

Any direct action may be covered under article 51 of the UN charter, which allows for legitimate self-defence but Downing Street denied May was attempting to win support to invoke article 5 of the Nato treaty on common defence.

Asked if the UK was approaching Nato to ask for help, housing minister Dominic Raab told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the prime minister “chose her words very carefully” in her statement to the Commons to refer to an “unlawful use of force, which has a different meaning in international law to an armed attack ... I don’t think we’re down the territory you’re discussing there.”