By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said the U.K. has received “striking” support from European allies as “classic Russian strategy” to hide truths is not fooling anyone.
Speaking to reporters in Brussels before an EU foreign affairs council meeting, Johnson said he has “been very heartened already by the strength of the support that the U.K. is getting in respect of the incident in Salisbury”.
Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were admitted to a hospital on March 4 after being found unconscious in Salisbury. The incident also saw a British police officer injured seriously.
Prime Minister Theresa May said last Monday it is “highly likely” that Russia was behind the attack after tests were carried out at the Porton Down military facilities.
Britain expelled 23 Russian diplomats, a move Russia responded by expelling the same number of British diplomats from Moscow.
Johnson said the support the U.K. received from its allies was “partly because they can see that Britain is acting [with] punctilious accordance with our obligations under the Treaty on Chemical Weapons and I would contrast that with how the Russians are behaving.”
Describing Russia’s denial of any involvement with the nerve agent used in Salisbury as “increasingly absurd,” Johnson underlined that a team of experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) are due to arrive in the U.K. to “take the samples from Salisbury”.
“At one time they say that they never made Novichok, at another time they say that they did make Novichok but all the stocks have been destroyed.
"Then again they say that they made Novichok but all the stocks have been destroyed but some of them have mysteriously escaped to Sweden or at the Czech Republic or Slovakia or the United States -- or even -- America, or the United Kingdom,” Johnson said.
“I think what people can see is that this is a classic Russian strategy of trying to conceal the needle of truth in a haystack of lies and obfuscation.
“And what really strikes me talking to European friends and partners today is that 12 years after the assassination of Alexander Litvinenko in London they [Russians] are not fooling anybody anymore."
The Salisbury incident has drawn comparisons to the fate of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko, who died in 2006 after drinking radioactive tea. Former KGB bodyguards, identified as suspects in the murder, denied any involvement.
“There is scarcely a country around the table -- here in Brussels -- that has not been affected by some kind of malign or disruptive Russian behaviour and that is why I think the strength and the resolve of our European friends is so striking today,” Johnson said.
Sergei Skripal was granted refuge in the U.K. following a spy exchange in 2010 between the U.S. and Russia. Before the exchange, he was serving 13 years in prison for leaking information to British intelligence.