Britain, Allies Urge Moscow To Accept ‘Compelling Evidence’ In Novichok Attack
Britain, bolstered by strong backing from its allies, condemned Russia at the UN Security Council over the chemical attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter on British soil earlier this year, urging Moscow to accept the “compelling evidence in this crime.”
London called the September 6 emergency meeting of the Security Council to brief members on the arrest warrants it issued a day earlier for two suspects in the attack against Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.
Britain’s UN ambassador, Karen Price, told the session that after “painstaking and methodical work” by the country’s independent police agencies and prosecutors, the government has concluded “there is enough evidence to bring charges against two Russian nationals” for conspiracy to commit murder, attempted murder, the use of and possession of the chemical nerve agent Novichok, and other crimes.
Britain on September 5, filed charges in absentia against the two men identified as Aleksandr Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, although it is suspected the names are aliases. They are believed to be agents of Russia’s military intelligence service, known as the GRU.
‘Chilled To The Bone’
Moscow denies any involvement in the poisoning.
“Everyone of us in this room, and listening around the world, should be chilled to the bone with the findings of this investigation,” U.S. Ambassador Nikiki Haley said in reference to the British probe into the attack.
Prior to the council session, the leaders of Britain, the United States, France, Germany, and Canada said they backed British law enforcement’s conclusion that the poisoning was “almost certainly approved at a senior government level” in Russia.
In a joint statement, they also said they have “full confidence” in the British assessment that the two suspects were GRU officers, and urged Russia to provide full disclosure of its Novichok program.
The statement was signed by British Prime Minister Theresa May, U.S. President Donald Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The allegations against Moscow reiterated what many in the West previously have said about the nerve agent attack against the Skripals — namely, that the act was approved at high levels of the Russian government.
‘Cocktail Of Facts’
The Russian ambassador to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya, once again denied the allegations on September 6, telling the Security Council that he heard “nothing new” from the British representative and that the charges against Moscow were an “unfounded and mendacious cocktail of facts.”
“We hoped we would hear something conclusive today, something to shed light on the incident. Unfortunately…In today’s speech, we have heard the same set of lies,” he said of what he called “a politically motivated investigation.”
Several other council members joined the Western allies in condemning the chemical attack, although not all called out Russia specifically.
Kazakhstan’s representative, Kairat Umarov, said more time and “concrete data” were needed before a “fair and objective” conclusion could be made in the matter.
The Skripals were discovered unconscious on March 4 on a bench in the southern English town of Salisbury. They were seriously ill but later made a full recovery after spending several weeks in the hospital.
British officials said the two were poisoned with Novichok, a military-grade chemical weapon that was developed in the Soviet Union, and blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government for the attack.
The attack led Britain, the United States, the European Union, and others to carry out a series of diplomatic expulsions and financial sanctions against Moscow.
British police have linked the Salisbury attack to a separate Novichok poisoningon June 30 in nearby Amesbury that led to the death of a 44-year-old woman.
Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.