Muslim Times(Web Desk) – European Union leaders blamed Russia on Thursday for a nerve agent attack in England, uniting behind British Prime Minister Theresa May and agreeing to recall their ambassador to Moscow for consultations.
Some states are now considering following Britain’s lead in expelling Russian diplomats over Moscow’s alleged poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English city of Salisbury.
The Skripals are both in a coma in a UK hospital after they were found collapsed on a park bench.
Moscow has rejected the claims as “absurd,” saying the substance used in the attack could have originated from the countries studying it, including Britain itself. It has offered cooperation with London in probing the case.
Russia says it will retaliate with expelling Western diplomats.
The British leader had pressed the importance of a united response to the March 4 nerve agent attack.
At an EU summit in Brussels, the leaders of the 28-member bloc offered May their full support, agreeing “that it is highly likely that the Russian Federation is responsible and that there is no plausible alternative explanation.”
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said they had agreed to recall the bloc’s ambassador to Moscow for consultations.
“Some member states are looking into possibly expelling Russian diplomats or recalling national diplomats,” an EU official added.
May the poisoning came as part of a “pattern of Russian aggression” and warned Moscow would pose a threat for “years to come,” long after Britain’s planned exit from the EU in March next year.
“The threat that Russia poses respects no borders and it is a threat to our values,” she said after briefing fellow leaders over dinner. “It is right that here in the EU council we are standing together to uphold those values.”
Britain expelled 23 Russian diplomats they said were spies, and has been pressing EU allies to follow suit.
However, London’s efforts to win a tough line from all 28 EU members ran up against countries keen to protect their Kremlin ties, notably Greece and Italy.
So far, 24 European countries, the US, Canada and Australia have announced that they will be expelling 122 Russian diplomats over the coming days.
US President Donald Trump on Monday ordered 60 Russian diplomats that Washington considers spies to leave the country in solidarity with Britain.
NATO also expelled seven diplomats from Russia’s mission to the alliance.
It was the biggest such expulsion since the height of the Cold War era, a term that describes the tense relationship between the US and the Soviet Union from 1945 to 1989.
There are now fears of a serious diplomatic crisis and a freezing in relations between Moscow and the West, which has raised the specter of the Cold War once again.