Politics 22-03-2018

​May warns the EU against the "Russian threat" after the attack on the ex-spy

The British Prime Minister, Theresa May, warned on Thursday against the "Russian threat" on his arrival at a summit with his European counterparts, whom he will ask for support against Moscow for his alleged involvement in the poisoning of a Russian ex-spy on British soil.

"The Russian threat does not respect borders," May warned in Brussels, where he will plead in favor of a strong EU position in condemnation of the attack in Salisbury (southern England) in which a neurotoxic agent manufactured during the Soviet era was used.

This attack "is part of a pattern of Russian aggression against Europe and its close neighbors," he told reporters.

Since the attack of March 4 against Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, considered the first use of a neurotoxic agent in the streets of Europe since the Second World War, London and Moscow are engaged in a harsh war of statements.

The last episode was played by British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, who compared the Russia-2018 World Cup with the Berlin-1936 Olympic Games under Adolf Hitler, a comparison that Russia labeled as "disgusting".

English fans will be "safe" in Russia despite the latent crisis between London and Moscow, said the Russian ambassador in London, Alexander Yakovenko, in an attempt to calm the spirits.

In this escalation of tensions, both capitals also proceeded to the expulsion of 23 diplomats and the British Prime Minister came to announce the interruption of bilateral contacts

The draft declaration of the 28 prepared for the European summit reflects the "different positions" of European states, said diplomats in Brussels.

According to the draft that the AFP obtained before the start of the summit, the leaders will limit themselves to saying that they take "very seriously the evaluation of the British government according to which it is very likely that the Russian Federation is responsible", but do not mention eventual sanctions

"We must express our solidarity with the United Kingdom, but at the same time we must investigate, we must be very responsible in the management of this case," Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said upon arriving at the meeting.

Theresa May will meet Thursday night with the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the French President, Emmanuel Macron, to coordinate positions, before addressing the Russian issue with the 25 other countries during the work dinner.

France would be willing, if May wishes, to be more explicit in its support for the United Kingdom and even to take possible measures in coordination with other European countries, said a source at the Elysee, without specifying what actions could be taken.

Meanwhile, in Moscow, President Vladimir Putin met on Thursday his security council in which he addressed "the unfriendly and provocative policy of the United Kingdom towards Russia," according to a statement from the Kremlin.

Russia, which is already targeted by economic sanctions for its involvement in the conflict in Ukraine, denies being implicated in the poisoning of the ex-spy and her daughter - who are in critical condition - and came to hint at the attack was a "staging" of the British authorities.

A British judge on Thursday authorized doctors to extract blood for it to be analyzed by experts in chemical weapons.

The leaders will also discuss the scandal of the use of Facebook personal data used by a British consulting firm hired by the Trump campaign team in 2016.

And on Friday, without May, the future relationship, including commercial, will be addressed with the United Kingdom after Brexit, scheduled for March 29, 2019.

AFP

 
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