Russia must establish clarity
The leaders of France, Germany and the United States of America have lined up firmly behind the United Kingdom on the nerve agent attack on former double agent Sergei Skripal. In a joint statement they call on Russia to address all questions related to the attack in Salisbury.
Partners support the UK
Russia should, in particular, provide full and complete disclosure of the Novichok programme to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPWC), says the statement.
The UK’s partners share its view that there is no plausible alternative explanation. Russia’s refusal to respond to the UK’s legitimate questions are seen as a further indication that it is responsible.
The United Kingdom explained to its partners in detail that it is highly likely that Russia was responsible for the attack.
Angela Merkel condemns the attack in the strongest possible terms
On Wednesday (14 March) Chancellor Angela Merkel demanded transparency from Russia with respect to the chemical toxins, so as to establish clarity. In an interview with the German public broadcaster ZDF she said that Russia must disclose its chemical weapons programme to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPWC).
In a telephone conversation with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday (13 March) Angela Merkel condemned the attack in the strongest possible terms. She assured the UK of her full support. The two leaders agreed to remain in close contact and advise European partners.
Finding solutions in dialogue with Russia
Parallel to this Angela Merkel believes in dialogue with Russia. Contradictions must be pointed out and clarity established, she said on ZDF television. "What has happened in the UK is very serious." But, she added solutions must be sought with Russia on many international questions, including the situation in Syria and in eastern Ukraine.
Grounds for major concern
Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas also expressed his concern about the events surrounding the nerve agent attack. Moscow, he said on Wednesday (14 March), should create transparency and declare its position on the case – either bilaterally to the United Kingdom or within the framework of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
Federal Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen stressed that a neutral body should be in charge of investigating the case. Speaking on ZDF television on Thursday (15 March) she pointed to the United Nations and their chemical weapons experts. Consequences can only be discussed once the matter has been investigated. "But crucially, it gives grounds for serious concern."
The former agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter were found unconscious on a bench in Salisbury, south west on London, on 4 March. They were taken to hospital in a critical condition, displaying symptoms of poisoning. On Monday evening (12 March) British Prime Minister Theresa May declared that it was "highly likely" that Russia was responsible for the nerve agent attack.