CNN International reports that world leaders are backing the UK’s assessment that the suspects in the Skripal Novichok poisoning are Russian Military Intelligence officers.
France, Germany, Canada and the US have signed a joint statement which backs the UK’s response to the nerve agent attack in the rural towns of Salisbury and Amesbury that left a mother of three dead and several others critically ill.
We, the leaders of France, Germany, the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, reiterate our outrage at the use of a chemical nerve agent, known as Novichok, in Salisbury on 4 March…
We have full confidence in the British assessment that the two suspects were officers from the Russian military intelligence service, also known as the GRU, and that this operation was almost certainly approved at a senior government level. We have already taken action together to disrupt the activities of the GRU through the largest ever collective expulsion of undeclared intelligence officers. Yesterday’s announcement further strengthens our intent to continue to disrupt together the hostile activities of foreign intelligence networks on our territories, uphold the prohibition of chemical weapons, protect our citizens and defend ourselves from all forms of malign state activity directed against us and our societies.GOV.UK
The joint statement comes after a UN Security Counsel Meeting was called by Prime Minister Theresa May in the wake of the announcement of two Russian nationals, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, being charged with conspiracy to commit murder. Russia is a permanent member of the UN Security Counsel, and was present for the discussion of the Salisbury poisoning.
In the meeting, British envoy, Karen Pierce stated that the GRU “played dice with the lives of the people of Salisbury” and pointed out that their actions are out of the norms of the rest of the world, The Independent reports.
UN Ambassador Nikki Haley expressed confidence in the UK’s conclusion.
Our British friends are staging a master class” on how to stop the use of chemical weapons, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said. “It is actually amazing to see the…clarity” of the UK poilice investigation results, Ms Haley commented, adding the evidence could not be denied.
“Every one of us should be chilled to the bone” with the results of the investigation.The Independent
The Russian government continues to dismiss the charges and accusations. Vasily Nebenzya, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the UN, leveled an accusation of Russophobia against the Prime Minister and called the allegations lies. He stated the UK’s problem was a “post-truth world…of fake news”.
Why It Matters
The fragile state of diplomacy between the US and her allies and President Trump’s concerning relationship with Vladimir Putin makes the US response to the UK’s assessment that the perpetrators of the Novichok poisoning are Russian Military Intelligence officers important. The UK is one of our most stalwart allies who deserves the support of the US in a brazen and heinous attack. That President Trump has signed a joint statement expressing the support of the US is a welcome development.
In the initial aftermath of the UK attack, the US joined other nations and expelled Russian diplomats. But the Washington Post reported that Trump was unhappy with the numbers of diplomats the US expelled in comparison to other allies and Trump has since stood next to Putin in the Helsinki press conference and questioned his own intelligence community.
Furthermore, with the New York Times op ed confirming the accounts in the upcoming Woodward book that senior officials get around Trump to save the country and preserve our relationships with allies, one is left wondering if the position President Trump took in his phone conversation yesterday with Theresa May is significantly different than Nikki Haley’s position in the Security Counsel meeting. Because the White House has stopped releasing transcripts of calls with world leaders, we may never know. That reality should concern all Americans.