Comment by the Information and Press Departmenton the statement of the EU Foreign Affairs Council of March 19, 2018, on the incident in Salisbury (United Kingdom)

Submitted on Tue, 03/20/2018 - 12:37

The speed with which EU member countries rushed to call British allegations of Russia’s involvement in the tragic incident in Salisbury “extremely serious” was perplexing.

Despite the attempts of the EU nations to observe some semblance of balance, the statement of the EU Foreign Affairs Council on March19 is based on the British version of the incident and, as a consequence, suffers from the same speculation and lack of proof. There is no mention in the document of the fact that Britain has not sent us any information on the circumstances of the case, refused to investigate it jointly or on a bilateral or multilateral basis through the OPCW, and blocked the Russian proposal in the UN Security Council to adopt a statement on behalf of its President with an appeal for cooperation on all sides in order to establish the truth. EU foreign ministers did not mention either that London had not provided information on the results of the “investigation” not only to its allies but even British MPs headed by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The EU Council ignores the fact that Russia has destroyed all chemical weapons, as the OPCW confirmed in 2017. Should this be interpreted as EU and British mistrust of the international chemical weapons watchdog? We have absolutely nothing to “declare,” as the EU demands. Russia does not produce or store any toxic chemical Novichok. Probably the EU should address this demand to Britain and some other EU members, which are apparently still developing such substances. We recommend that our EU partners start their fact-finding mission by visiting the British government laboratory for weapons of mass destruction in Porton Down, located just several kilometres away from Salisbury.

In addition, before helping London to fan media hysteria over the Skripal case, the EU countries should understand the motives of their British colleagues. There is every indication that London is up for any tricks that would divert the attention of Brits from its failure at the Brexit negotiations. The uproar over the mysterious poisoning of our two compatriots, fanned up by the local media in the best traditions of spy mania, will be helpful in this respect. Apparently, London believes that, having received demonstrations of support from partners in (for now) fellow EU countries, it will be easier to steer discussions at the European Council session on March 22-23, which was initially supposed to focus on the British-EU negotiations.

We regret that these circumstances and undeniable facts are being ignored and that the EU has again acted out of mistaken notions of European solidarity and anti-Russian reflexes. Needless to say, such conduct does not reflect well on the EU’s common foreign policy.