US backs UK claim on Russia hand in attack

US backs UK claim on Russia hand in attack

London: Britain and its allies on Thursday pointed the finger directly at Moscow over the poisoning of a Russian double agent, as the Kremlin vowed prompt retaliation against the “irresponsible” expulsion of its diplomats from London.
The escalating international scandal is unfolding as former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia remain in critical condition after exposure to the Soviet-designed chemical Novichok on March 4 in the English city of Salisbury.
British Prime Minister Theresa May promised a “united stance” as she visited the scene of the attack for the first time on Thursday, a day after saying Moscow was “culpable” and expelling 23 Russian diplomats among other measures.
In a rare joint statement, the leaders of Britain, France, Germany, and the US condemned the attack as an “assault on UK sovereignty”.
“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 said.
The four leaders called on Russia to provide “full and complete disclosure” of the Soviet-era chemical programme that developed Novichok, the statement published by the British government said.
Meanwhile, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called Britain’s position “absolutely irresponsible”. He warned that retaliatory steps would soon follow and President Vladimir Putin would choose the option that “most suits Moscow’s interests”. Russia would respond by kicking out British diplomats, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted as saying in Moscow, adding that it would happen “soon”.