U.S. Makes Joint Statement With U.K., Germany, France Implicating Russia in Chemical Attack

Trump and European leaders call poisoning an 'assault on U.K. sovereignty'

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin / Getty Images

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President Donald Trump joined the leaders of the United Kingdom, Germany, and France Thursday in condemning suspected Russian use of a nerve agent in Salisbury, U.K.

The statement declares Russia responsible for the attack, with "no plausible alternative explanation" for the use of a Novichok nerve agent, developed in Russia, against Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. Skripal is a former Russian intelligence officer who spied for the U.K. and became a British citizen after Moscow released him from prison.

"The United Kingdom briefed thoroughly its allies that it was highly likely that Russia was responsible for the attack," the statement reads.

"We share the UK assessment that there is no plausible alternative explanation, and note that Russia’s failure to address the legitimate request by the UK government further underlines its responsibility," the statement adds.

The statement declares the attack a violation of international law and an attack on the U.K.’s sovereignty.

"It is an assault on UK sovereignty and any such use by a state party is a clear violation of the chemical weapons convention and a breach of international law.

According to the statement, this was the first use of a nerve agent against another European country since World War II.

"This use of a military-grade nerve agent, of a type developed by Russia, constitutes the first offensive use of a nerve agent in Europe since the second world war," the statement reads.

The joint statement demands Russia fully explain the attack and disclose everything about its Novichok program to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands.

"We call on Russia to address all questions related to the attack in Salisbury," the statement reads. "Russia should in particular provide full and complete disclosure of the Novichok programme to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)."

"Our concerns are also heightened against the background of a pattern of earlier irresponsible Russian behaviour. We call on Russia to live up to its responsibilities as a member of the UN Security Council to uphold international peace and security," the statement concludes.

The statement mentions a British police officer who "remains seriously ill" from the attack, but it does not provide news on Skripal and his daughter Yulia, who are in critical condition, according to most recent reports.

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday announced the U.K. would expel 23 Russian diplomats in response to the attack. Russia called it an "unprecedentedly crude provocation."

"The British government has opted for confrontation with Russia," the Russian Foreign Ministry said. "To be sure, our response will not be long in coming."

The White House had previously stated that it concurred with the U.K. assessment of Russian culpability in the attack.

Paul Crookston

Paul Crookston   Email Paul | Full Bio | RSS
Paul Crookston is the deputy war room director at the Washington Free Beacon. He was previously a Collegiate Network fellow at National Review. A 2016 graduate of Gordon College in Wenham, Mass., he served as the managing editor of the Tartan campus newspaper. He is originally from Tampa, Fla., but he still roots for Dad’s Ohio teams. His Twitter handle is @P_Crookston. He can be reached at crookston@freebeacon.com.

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