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Russian spy crisis: UK gets EU support in showdown with Moscow

• Trump gives cautious backing

• Accusation is another attempt to discredit Russia -FM

Britain has won support from some of its main European allies and the European Union in the deepening diplomatic crisis over the attack on a Russian spy in London.

They denounced the attack as “shocking” and offered help to track down those responsible.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the incident was “of great concern”, as the Daily Telegraph newspaper reported that Britain was consulting NATO allies about possibly invoking its Article 5 principle of common defence.

United States President Donald Trump said he would condemn Russia if British evidence incriminated Moscow. Prime Minister Theresa May, had said on Monday it was “highly likely” that Russia was behind the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter. She gave Russia until midnight on Tuesday (yesterday) to explain how a Soviet-era nerve agent was used against the former Russian double agent.Broadcasting regulator Ofcom has also warned Russian state-owned news channel RT that its licence in Britain could be reviewed. British police and intelligence services are also to revisit the deaths of 14 people on its soil that may be linked to Russia, Home Secretary Amber Rudd said Tuesday.

But Moscow yesterday denied it was behind the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter on March 4. “Actions by the British authorities are openly provocative,” said a statement by the Russian foreign ministry.

“The incident is yet another dirty attempt by British authorities to discredit Russia.”

“Any threats of sanction measures against Russia will not be left without a response,” it said.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov of the attack. Lavrov said “Russia is not guilty,” adding that  Russia was “ready to cooperate”, but complained Britain had rejected its requests for “access” to the nerve agent samples.

Russian President Vladimir Putin brushed aside questions about Moscow’s involvement in the attack on Monday, telling the BBC: “Sort things out from your side and then we will discuss this with you.” Moscow yesterday summoned the British ambassador and called the accusations “another dirty attempt by British authorities to discredit Russia.”

Russia, however, signaled little likelihood that it would respond adequately to London’s call for a credible explanation by today. Denying it had played any part in the attack, which left the 66-year-old Skripal and his 33-year-old daughter Yulia fighting for their lives, Russia said it would ignore the ultimatum until London handed over samples of the nerve agent used and complied with international obligations for joint investigations of such incidents.


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