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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 September 2018

May links Russian UN vetoes on Syria to Salisbury attack

The British prime minister accused Moscow of enabling chemical weapons use in Syria

Britain's prime minister Theresa May speaks during a press conference with her Danish counterpart following talks at Christiansborg castle in Copenhagen. AFP/Ritzau Scanpix/Mads Claus Rasmussen
Britain's prime minister Theresa May speaks during a press conference with her Danish counterpart following talks at Christiansborg castle in Copenhagen. AFP/Ritzau Scanpix/Mads Claus Rasmussen

British Prime Minister Theresa May launched another attack on Russia on Monday, accusing President Vladimir Putin’s government of enabling chemical weapons attacks in Syria and repeating her government’s view that a nerve agent attack on a Russian double agent in England originated in Moscow.

Speaking in Copenhagen alongside Danish counterpart Lars Løkke Rasmussen, Mrs May addressed the “barbaric” chemical weapons attack in Douma on Saturday, saying that “if confirmed, this is yet another example of the Assad regime’s brutality and brazen disregard for its own people and for its legal obligations not to use these weapons”.

Mrs May said that if the Syrian government is responsible, President Bashar Al Assad and his backers – including Russia – “must be held to account”.

“In recent years, Russia’s repeated vetoes at the United Nations have enabled these rules to be broken and removed mechanisms that allow us to investigate and hold to account chemical weapons attacks in Syria. This must stop,” she said.

Mrs May tied Moscow’s actions at the UN with the Novichok chemical weapon attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, saying that “we [have seen] a similar recklessness last month with the use of chemical weapons on the streets of Salisbury.

“The UK’s case for holding Russia responsible for the attempted murder of Sergei and Yulia Skripal is clear.

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UK defence secretary warns Russia not to block UN probe into suspected Syrian chemical weapons attack

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“Based on our world-leading experts at Porton Down positively identifying the chemical agent as a Novichok; our knowledge that Russia has previously produced this agent and retains the capability to do so; Russia’s record of conducting state-sponsored assassinations; our assessment that they view some defectors as legitimate targets for assassination, and our information indicating that they have investigated ways of delivering nerve agents, probably for assassination, and as part of this programme have produced and stockpiled small quantities of Novichoks, the government has concluded there is no plausible explanation other than that Russia was responsible.”

She praised Denmark and other allies’ support of the British position as showing “a clear acknowledgement of the shared threat Russia poses to our security on a range of fronts. This increasingly hostile behaviour has involved a sustained campaign of cyber espionage, and disruption including against Denmark.”

The British PM vowed “to stand up for the fundamental values that underpin our way of life. And we agreed today on the need to do more – alongside our allies – to counter the growing challenge from Russia to international security.”

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