White House backs UK decision to expel Russian diplomats over Skripal saga

The White House has approved of the UK government’s decision to expel 23 Russian diplomats from the UK after blaming Moscow for the poisoning of a former double agent and his daughter in Salisbury.

“The United States shares the United Kingdom’s assessment that Russia is responsible for the reckless nerve agent attack on the British citizen and his daughter,” the statement, issued in the wake of the UN Security Council meeting called by the UK over the issue, reads.

The statement then proceeds to allege that there is a “pattern of behavior in which Russia disregards the international rules-based order, undermines the sovereignty and security of countries worldwide, and attempts to subvert and discredit Western democratic institutions and processes.”

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File Photo: Russian ambassador to the U.N. Vasily Nebenzya, February 23, 2018. © Brendan McDermid

The US and the UK were the two nations at the UNSC that blamed Russia out of hand for the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. London claims they were affected by a Soviet-engineered nerve agent called Novichok, but has refused to produce a sample for Moscow to analyze.

During an emergency UNSC meeting on Wednesday, UK envoy to the UN Jonathan Allen labelled the incident “an unlawful use of force” on the British state by the Russian state, while US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said that Washington holds Russia responsible for the incident.

After Russia failed to meet the Thursday midnight deadline to explain how the nerve agent had come to be used in the poisoning of the Skripals, May rolled out new sanctions against Moscow, including the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomatic staff who the UK believes are covert intelligence operatives.

Moscow has denounced the allegations of its culpability as “completely irresponsible,” pointing to the rushed conclusions of the UK authorities and the lack of a comprehensive investigation by the UN chemical weapons watchdog. Russia’s UN representative Vassily Nebenzya said Moscow is open to cooperating with the UK, provided it provides the relevant samples for a joint examination. Russia has “nothing to fear and nothing to hide,” he stressed.

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