US President Donald Trump has called on Moscow to provide “unambiguous answers” about the nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in England.
Trump made the plea during a phone conversation with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday, throwing his full support behind London’s strategy of confronting Moscow over the poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia on March 4.
“President Trump said the US was with the UK all the way, agreeing that the Russian government must provide unambiguous answers as to how this nerve agent came to be used,” May’s office said in an emailed statement.
“The two leaders agreed on the need for consequences for those who use these heinous weapons in flagrant violation of international norms,” it added.
Earlier in the day and before the call, the US president said the former double agent’s poisoning in Britain sounded like the work of Russia.
“It sounds to me like it would be Russia, based on all of the evidence they have,” Trump said. “Theresa May is going to be speaking to me today … As soon as we get the facts straight, if we agree with them, we will condemn Russia.”
The 66-year-old former spy and his 33-year-old daughter have been hospitalized since they were found unconscious on a bench outside a shopping center in the southern English city of Salisbury on March 4.
Both Skripal and his daughter remain unconscious in a critical but stable condition, according to a report.
Delivering a statement to members of parliament in the House of Commons on Monday, May said it was “highly likely” that Moscow was responsible for poisoning the former spy and his daughter.
The British prime minster said a chemical weapon purportedly developed under a clandestine Soviet program, dubbed Novichok, had been used in the poisoning of the agent and his daughter, demanding that Moscow provide details of the so-called program.
May also said the poisoning had occurred “against a backdrop of a well-established pattern of Russian state aggression,” and that London was ready to take “much more extensive measures” against Moscow than in the past.
She gave the Kremlin until the end of Tuesday to answer the accusations, warning that otherwise London would consider the poisoning an attack directed by the Russian government.
In a swift response to May’s address at the UK parliament, the Russian Foreign Ministry denounced as a “circus show” the British premier’s allegations and said, “It’s another political information campaign, based on a provocation.”
Russia summoned the British ambassador in Moscow over the accusations.
Russia says it has nothing to do with the poisoning of the two, but has expressed readiness in assisting Britain in the investigation, provided that London meets its own obligations as to how such probes are to be handled.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday that London should “get to the bottom” of the attack in its investigations before making any claims.
Skripal was found guilty by a Russian tribunal of selling classified information to UK’s spy agency MI6 and was imprisoned in Russia in 2006. He was exchanged in a spy swap in 2010.
Britain’s National counter-terrorism police have taken over the investigation on the attack and they are treating the case as attempted murder.