Fri, Apr 06, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Russia calls for talks after spy probe bid fails

OPCW MEETING:The EU said it agreed with the UK’s assessment that it is likely that Russia was responsible and there is no plausible alternative explanation

AFP, THE HAGUE, Netherlands

Russia has called for urgent UN Security Council talks on the spiraling diplomatic crisis sparked by the spy poisoning scandal as a group of expelled US diplomats left their embassy in Moscow early yesterday.

Britain blames Russia for the March 4 poisoning on UK soil of former double agent Sergei Skripal with what it says was a military-grade nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union, sending relations between Moscow and the West plummeting to new lows.

More than 150 Russian diplomats were ordered out of the US, EU member states, NATO nations and other countries in the wake of the attack, a move that was met in kind by Moscow.

Early yesterday morning the first of about 60 US diplomats ordered out of Russia left their embassy compound in Moscow on their way to the airport.

The departure came a day after Russia found itself diplomatically isolated when it lost its bid at the global chemical weapons watchdog to launch a joint probe with Britain into the poisoning.

Moscow had convened a meeting of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on Wednesday, but Russia’s ambassador to the watchdog said Moscow was unable to get the required two-thirds of votes from members to approve a joint investigation.

Diplomatic sources said that six nations voted in favor of the Russian draft motion, but 15 were against while 17 abstained, mainly nations from the Non-Aligned Movement.

After the failure Moscow called for a UN Security Council meeting yesterday in New York.

Russian Ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia said the meeting would focus on a letter sent by British Prime Minister Theresa May accusing Moscow of carrying out the attempted assassination.

Wednesday’s bid to secure a joint probe saw a day of bitter rhetoric between Moscow, London and Britain’s allies.

London criticized the joint probe idea as “perverse.”

“We will not agree to Russia’s demand to conduct a joint investigation into the attack in Salisbury because the UK — supported by many other countries — has assessed that it is highly likely that the Russian state is responsible for this attack,” British chemical arms expert John Foggo told the OPCW’s governing executive council.

British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Boris Johnson hailed the defeat of Russia’s bid.

“The purpose of Russia’s ludicrous proposal at The Hague was clear — to undermine the independent, impartial work of the international chemical weapons watchdog,” Johnson said, adding that Moscow’s main goal was “to obscure the truth and confuse the public.”

Bulgarian Representative to the OPCW Krassimir Kostov, speaking on behalf of the EU, said the bloc had “full confidence in the UK investigation.”

Kostov said the EU agreed with the British “assessment that it is highly likely that the Russian Federation is responsible and that there is no plausible alternative explanation.”

Russian Foreign Intelligence Service Director Sergei Naryshkin on Wednesday said in a speech in Moscow that both sides must avoid tensions escalating to the dangerous levels of the Cold War.

Accusations of Moscow engineering the attack were a “grotesque provocation ... crudely concocted by the British and American security services,” he said.

OPCW experts have already taken on-site samples which are being analyzed in The Hague, as well as in four other certified laboratories.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top