politics

At Least 10 European States to Penalize Russia for Spy Attack, Sources Say

Updated on
  • Coordinated announcements on Salisbury scheduled for 3pm CET
  • Foreign Ministry in Moscow bemoans ‘perverted’ U.K. solidarity

U.K.'s May Welcomes EU Backing on Russia Spy Attack Response

At least 10 European countries will take coordinated action on Monday in response to Russia’s alleged chemical attack in the U.K. this month, according to two people with knowledge of the decision.

Announcements are scheduled for 3 p.m. as a group of the European Union’s 28 states rallies behind a fellow member following the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in the city of Salisbury. U.S. President Donald Trump is also likely to announce the expulsion of dozens of diplomats, his most aggressive actions yet against Russia.

The moves signal an intensified global reaction to Russia a week after Vladimir Putin overwhelmingly won a new term as president. The European action aligns the EU with the U.S. despite a deterioration of traditional trans-Atlantic goodwill, as the two regions argue over issues from import tariffs to the Iran nuclear deal.

EU member states including France and Germany have indicated they’d initiate a coordinated response aimed at the Kremlin after the bloc concluded last week that it was “highly likely” Russia was responsible for the chemical attack and that there was “no plausible alternative explanation.”

Countries to have confirmed announcements Monday include Poland, the Czech Republic and the Baltic nations of Estonia and Latvia, the latter two once being unwilling members of the Soviet Union.

‘Loyal Subjects’

Russia denies any involvement and its Foreign Ministry on Monday called the coordinated action a “perverted interpretation of solidarity.” EU states participating are “like loyal subjects giving political support to London,” spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Facebook.

British Prime Minister Theresa May condemned Russia this month for the nerve-agent attack, which also hospitalized a British police officer. She said the 23 Russians she ordered to leave Britain were undeclared spies and has sought the cooperation of other countries in her campaign to punish Moscow.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in an interview with German newspaper Die Welt this month that Russia is becoming “more unpredictable and more aggressive” and that EU leaders could make new decisions at a North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit in July.

— With assistance by Anthony Halpin

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