Boris Johnson Directly Blames Putin For Ordering Nerve Agent Attack

Tolga Akmen/Pool via Reuters

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It is “overwhelmingly likely” that Russian leader Vladimir Putin was directly responsible for the nerve agent attack on a Russian double agent on British soil, U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Friday.

Johnson’s accusation went a step further than British Prime Minister Theresa May, who said it’s “highly likely” the Kremlin is responsible for the attack on ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia earlier in March. May responded by ordering the expulsion of 23 undeclared Russian intelligence agents masquerading as diplomats on Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters alongside his Polish counterpart, Johnson said the Skripal incident was a violation of British sovereignty.

“Our quarrel is with Putin’s Kremlin, and with his decision, and we think it overwhelmingly likely that it was his decision to direct the use of a nerve agent on the streets of the UK, on the streets of Europe, for the first time since the Second World War,” he said. “That is why we are at odds with Russia.”

Moscow has strongly denied involvement in the attack and said it would respond in kind to the expulsion of its diplomats. Russian ambassador to the U.K. Alexander Yakovenko said Friday that Britain violated international law by failing to share the information about the Skripal probe, saying “it hasn’t provided a single fact” in support of the allegations, according to the Associated Press.

The U.S and other European allies have backed Britain’s assessment that the Kremlin was responsible for the attack.

“We share the UK assessment that there is no plausible alternative explanation, and note that Russia’s failure to address the legitimate request by the UK government further underlines its responsibility,” the U.S., France, Germany and Britain said in a joint statement released Thursday.

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