Monday 17 December 2018

Johnson denounces Kremlin 'haystack of lies'

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson yesterday
UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson yesterday

Shaun Connolly, Sam Lister and Aine Fox

Theresa May has hit back at Vladimir Putin's dismissal of the British Government's claim that Russia was responsible for the Salisbury spy poisoning.

The UK prime minister said Russia had the capability, motive and intent to carry out such an attack, adding there can be "no other conclusion".

Mrs May's comments ­followed strong words from British Foreign Minister ­Boris Johnson, who accused ­Russia of trying to conceal "the ­needle of truth in a ­haystack of lies" - after Mr Putin dismissed the idea of Russian responsibility in the nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal (66) and his daughter Yulia (33) as ­"nonsense".

Arriving for a meeting with EU counterparts in Brussels, Mr Johnson said Moscow's denials over the incident were "increasingly absurd" as he accused the Kremlin of ­changing its story regarding the Novichok nerve agent.

The EU Foreign Affairs Council declared its "unqualified solidarity" for the UK.

Experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons yesterday took samples of the nerve agent used in the case.

Mr Johnson said: "At one time they (Russia) say that they never made Novichok, and at another time they say they did make Novichok, but all the stocks have been destroyed but some of them have mysteriously escaped to Sweden, or the Czech Republic, or Slovakia, or the United States or even the United Kingdom.

"This is a classic Russian strategy of trying to conceal the needle of truth in a haystack of lies and obfuscation."

Mrs May said: "I'm clear that what we have seen shows that there is no other conclusion but that the Russian state is culpable for what happened on the streets of Salisbury."

Following reports around the possible exhumation of bodies of other Russians who died in suspicious circumstances, she added it is a "matter for the police as to whether they feel that there are any previous cases that need to be investigated further".

The Foreign Affairs Council said the EU "takes extremely seriously the UK government's assessment that it is highly likely the Russian Federation is responsible".

Irish Independent

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