Reactions to the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal

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Reactions to the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal. Green – countries which expelled Russian diplomats. Purple – countries which recalled their ambassadors in Moscow. Yellow – other diplomatic response. Red – Russian Federation
Forensic tents near the site of the attack in Salisbury.

Reactions to the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal on 4 March 2018 in Salisbury, Wiltshire, England, with aTemplate:Which Novichok nerve agent,[1][2]Template:Whom emerged from both within each of the United Kingdom and Russia as well as from around the world, including the European Union (EU) and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), other states and institutions, and people throughout March into April 2018.

On 26 March 2018, joint action to expel Russian diplomats was undertaken by 21 EU members and the U.S.: more than 150 Russian diplomats have been expelled from 28 countries since the attack, including sixty from the U.S.[3]Template:Check



Wiltshire Police and Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson said "I'm very pleased to have met Theresa May today and hear her praise Wiltshire Police first responders and the resilience of those who live in Salisbury. Unfortunately the past two weeks has affected local businesses within the cordon areas greatly, and I hope that once the cordons are no longer necessary they are able to return to some normality. Together with Wiltshire Council and other partners I'm committed to ensuring that people in Salisbury are supported during this challenging investigation and in the time after."

Deputy Council Leader John Thompson confirmed the authority will be putting in a bid for funding from the governments Bellwin scheme, "It's really important that they gather information about what's happened to their business about what affect it's had, some are totally closed so it's obviously at a total standstill for them. We will be contacting those businesses. So it will be really useful if they could prepare some information before we contact them about what their rates are, what their details are etc."[4]

Jenny Harries, Regional Director at Public Health England, said that it was difficult for people to understand why they were allowed to get close to scenes that were being examined by officers in hazmat suits, but she emphasised that "The risk to the general public is low. There are only three cases in hospital. No members of the public have been harmed by this incident."[5]

Zizzi issued a statement expressing shock and sadness, "Our thoughts are with the victims, their friends and family, and everyone in the Salisbury community who has been affected by this attack, as well as the police and emergency services who have been working tirelessly across the last seven days," it said. Zizzi Salisbury remains closed as part of the ongoing police investigation. Our priority is to ensure the wellbeing of our team and support our Zizzi Salisbury customers, as well as continuing to do everything we can to help the police. We are fully supporting our Zizzi team members, and our team will continue to receive full payment while the Salisbury restaurant is closed."[6]


On 12 March 2018, speaking in the House of Commons, Prime Minister Theresa May delivered a statement on the incident, saying: Template:Quote

Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson said the evidence against Russia was "overwhelming". He told the BBC[7]:Template:Quote

On 20 March 2018, Johnson gave an interview with Deutsche Welle and discussed why the government thinks Russia was behind the attack. The interviewer said, "You argue that the source of this nerve agent, Novichok, is Russia. How did you manage to find it out so quickly? Does Britain possess samples of it?" Johnson said the scientists from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) at Porton Down were "absolutely categorical" adding "I asked the guy myself."[8][9] Martin Williams of Channel 4 News analyzed these comments and wrote it could be interpreted as referring to the chemical's source, though the UK Foreign Office stated they referred to DSTL's identification of the chemical as Novichok. Williams concluded, "At best, this means [Johnson's] comments were sloppy and ham-fisted. At worst, they were wrong and misleading."[9] On 21 March, Johnson told a select committee of MPs that the attack on Skripal was designed to bolster support ahead of the recent Russian elections. He also stated that Russia's President Vladimir Putin will use the 2018 FIFA World Cup hosted in the summer to bolster his image like Hitler did in the 1936 Olympics.[10]

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said "What we will do, we will look at how Russia responds to what we have done. It is absolutely atrocious and outrageous what Russia did in Salisbury. We have responded to that. Frankly, Russia should go away and should shut up. But if they do respond to the action we have taken, we will consider it carefully and we will look at our options but it would be wrong to prejudge their response."[11] He also announced plans for thousands of British soldiers be vaccinated against anthrax poisoning. It is part of a range of measures including £48m that will be invested to create a "cutting-edge" Chemical Weapons Defence Centre at Porton Down in Wiltshire.[12][13] On 27 March while in Estonia; Williamson welcomed the Russian expulsions, "I think that is the very best response that we can have because their intention, their aim, is to divide and what we are seeing is the world uniting behind the British stance. That in itself is a great victory and that sends an exceptionally powerful message to the Kremlin and President Putin."[14]

The Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn criticised the government for directly accusing Russia of the attack without sufficient evidence. He was rebuked by the Prime Minister, Theresa May, who said Corbyn should join in condemning Russia.[15] On 15 March, Corbyn after facing mounting criticism criticised Russia, saying:Template:Quote

Chief of the Air Staff Sir Stephen Hillier said in a speech to mark the 100th anniversary of the Royal Air Force that if Moscow launched a chemical weapons attack on Salisbury, it is proof that they could defy international rulings to destroy valuable satellites in orbit, "I don't foresee, if you like, a war in space, but I can see us being contested for use of space and for people trying to deny some of our specific capabilities. We already see that to a significant degree and we need to be prepared to deal with that threat."[16]

It was reported by The Guardian on 4 April that the UK Foreign Office had deleted a tweet stating that Porton Down had confirmed the nerve agent was produced in Russia. The tweet, which had been posted on 22 March 2018, stated "Analysis by world-leading experts at the Defence Science and Technology laboratory at Porton Down made clear that this was a military grade nerve agent produced in Russia." The Foreign Office said that this tweet was deleted because it "did not accurately report" a quotation by British diplomat Laurie Bristow.[17]


  • Template:Flag: First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon on the 14th March said "I expressed my support for the initial steps that the Prime Minister has outlined in the House of Commons this afternoon. Obviously as legislation is brought forward we will scrutinise that carefully. But it is very clear that Russia cannot be permitted to unlawfully kill or attempt to kill people on the streets of the UK with impunity."[18]
    • Sturgeon also tweeted her approval of a statement made by SNP Defence Spokesman Stewart McDonald who said on Twitter saying, "What the Prime Minister has just outlined is a sobering and horrifying example of the range of threats we now face – not unknown to our Baltic allies. Cool heads must prevail, but this crime cannot go unpunished." Sturgeon called the attack sober and terrifying, and added on Twitter: "Exactly right. Cool heads certainly required but also a firm response. Russia simply cannot be allowed to launch attacks on our streets with impunity."[19]
    • The Leader of the Scottish National Party in the House of Commons Ian Blackford committed the party to working with the Tories, describing the attack as an "abuse of state power" by the Russians. There has to be a robust response to the use of terror on our streets. We must act in a measured way to show that we will simply not tolerate this behaviour."[20]
    • Stephen Gethins MP told the Russian Consulate in Edinburgh that diplomats must be "open to speaking to police", a week before he had told the Herald Scotland, "the Russian authorities have previously shown that they are perfectly willing to step outside international norms of behaviour and the Russian government has disrespected the rule of law in both its own country and its neighbours, I would urge the UK authorities to investigate fully these and any other attacks of this kind. Those investigating should be able to conduct their enquiries thoroughly, which would include access to staff at the Russian Embassy and the Consulate in Edinburgh."[21]
  • Template:Flag: Speaking outside 10 Downing Street, First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones said in a statement, "We met [Prime Minister May and First Minister Sturgeon] this afternoon of course in the shadow of the unjustifiable and appalling event in Salisbury recently. I expressed my full support to the prime minister for the robust and proportionate action she has taken. It is hugely important that where incidents like this take place that the right response is made to them, and that has been done."[22]
    • On 26 March, the leader of Plaid Cymru, Leanne Wood said "Russia may well be" responsible but there was no evidence yet. I am not convinced at all that the prime minister is in the right direction on this, I do not trust the Tories in anything so I am afraid I cannot take the prime minister's word on this, just like I cannot on the question of a power grab".[23]
    • Welsh Conservative leader in the Welsh Assembly Andrew RT Davies reacted to this and said it was 'beyond childish' and accused the Plaid Cymru leader of acting as 'an apologist for the Kremlin. "The far left's pitiful obsession with opposing every action of the UK Government even when our country comes under attack is unbecoming and beyond childish. The leader of Plaid Cymru need look no further than to her Scottish cousins, the SNP, to find a reaction fitting for such circumstances. A few weeks ago it was Salisbury, tomorrow it could be the city, town or village that any one of us in Wales live in and such despicable actions which endanger our national security requires strong leadership not apologists. People right across Wales will be wondering what on earth is going on with the Plaid leadership when it prefers to act as an apologist for the Kremlin, rather than call out Putin's regime for committing such a terrible act on our shores".[24]
  • Template:Flag: Caroline Lucas; Co-Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, said via Twitter in response to both the Salisbury attack and Jeremy Corbyn spokesperson statement about the intelligence agencies, "It should not be controversial to say UK intelligence agencies have made serious, dangerous mistakes in the past. But it's also fair to conclude – on the evidence given today – that the Salisbury attack was highly likely to be from Russia & tough action is needed."[25]
  • Template:Flag: On the 28th of March, the deputy leader of the Democratic Unionist Party Nigel Dodds said "the threats faced by our nation are changing and we must ensure the necessary resources are in place to meet those threats. While the Government stance has been exemplary, this must be followed through in all areas."[26]

The Russian Federation


On 6 March 2018 Andrey Lugovoy, alleged killer of Alexander Litvinenko and the deputy of the State Duma, in his interview with the Echo of Moscow said:


On 18 March 2018, following his election in the Russian presidential election, 2018, newly re-elected President Vladimir Putin stated: Template:Quote

On the 14th, Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated:"Moscow has nothing to do with the accident in Britain and Moscow does not accept unfounded accusations that are not based on evidence and a language of ultimatums."[27] Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov referred to the statement made by the British Parliament that the Russian government explain the attack as "an ultimatum from London".[28][29] While Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov had denied that either the Soviet Union or Russia ever had a programme to create the Novichok nerve agent identified as having been used.[30]

Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Federation Council and Senator from the Mari El Konstantin Kosachev said "this is not our choice, definitely. We have not raised any tensions in our relations, it was the decision by the British side without evidence. I believe sooner or later we will learn the truth and this truth will be definitely very unpleasant for the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom" and others who he says "have absolutely blindly supported this theory of Russian involvement."[31]

On 17 March, Russia announced it was kicking out 23 British diplomats and ordered the closure of the UK's consulate in St Petersburg and the British Council office in Moscow, stopping all British Council activities in the Russian Federation.[32]

In March 2018, the Deputy of the State Duma Vitaly Milonov said that Britain was responsible for the attack. Comparing the Prime Minister Theresa May to Adolf Hitler, Milonov claimed that "it's a behaviour of Hitler when he blamed someone for the burning of the Reichstag." The extraordinary claims to BBC Radio 4 led to him being taken off air.[33]

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on 25 March 2018 that Russia's ambassador in London had received from the UK Foreign Office only poorly worded formal replies to the Russian side's inquiries and notes on the case, with a quality of work of the British side she described as "hasty actions and complete lack of in-house coordination."[34]

In early April 2018, Russia called for a joint investigation into the poisoning. The U.N. Security Council rejected this proposal.[35]


  • Permanent Representative of Russia to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia on 14 March 2018 told the UN Security Council, "There has been no scientific research and development conducted in the Russian Federation on what has been dubbed Novichok. Starting in the early 1970s, a large number of countries established programmes for creating new types of nerve and paralytic agents, known as VX, in particular in the United States and the Soviet Union. Russia terminated Soviet development efforts in the area of chemical weapons, in accordance with a decree issued by the President of the Russian Federation in 1992. In 2017, the Russian Federation completed the destruction of all of its existing stocks of chemical weapons, as verified by the OPCW, the relevant international entity. Incidentally, the United States has still not destroyed its chemical-weapon capacities. [...] The most likely sources of this particular chemical are the countries that have been doing intensive research on such substances since the end of the 1990s, which include Great Britain."[36][37][38]
  • Ambassador to the U.K. Alexander Yakovenko said "There is one more reason for diverting the attention of the British public, which is Brexit, because the situation in negotiations is not so easy. In order to divert attention from Brexit, they have to present something to the public that could move a little bit to the other side. That's a great possibility to launch this anti-Russian campaign. This is a scenario that was written in London but it's a short-sighted scenario because, in the long run, Britain will have to explain what is behind all these things in Salisbury."[39] On the 25th, Yakovenko wrote a letter to Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, "I was relieved to hear you were released from hospital and reunited with your family. I wish you full recovery and hope that you will be able to return to your normal life as soon as possible.I would like to express my sincere gratitude to you for your bravery when reacting to the assault on two Russian nationals, Sergei and Yulia Skripal, on 4 March in Salisbury, who I hope will get well soon too. Please be assured that Russia has nothing to do with this reckless incident and is ready to cooperate with the British authorities with regard to the investigation both bilaterally and through international organisations."[40] UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson predicted on the 27th that Putin would revel in the World Cup to be hosted by Moscow in the same way that Adolf Hitler did in the Olympic Games in Berlin in 1936, Yakovenko reply to it by saying; "nobody has the right to insult the Russian people who defeated nazism and lost more than 25 m people by comparing our country to Nazi Germany. We are not buying this. First we have to see the evidence and see the conclusions", he added, complaining that the British authorities had refused consular access to the Skripals and had kept the embassy in the dark. He wished the Skripals a speedy recovery.[41]
    • In a statement released on 21 March to Twitter, the Russian Consulate in Edinburgh said it condemned the Scottish Government for supporting the "unprecedented and flagrant provocation" by the British Government and welcomed "the warm messages of support" from the Scottish people but said the British Government was "seriously aggravate relations further in pursuit of its unseemly political ends". "Although the Salisbury incident occurred outside of our Consular district its influence on bilateral relations between the United Kingdom and Russia is so immense, that we cannot remain indifferent. First of all, the Consulate General of the Russian Federation in Edinburgh is deeply saddened by this incident and wishes a rapid and compete recovery to all its victims, including Sergeant Nick Bailey. Our sympathies are with the local community and all innocent civilians affected by this tragic event.[42]
  • Ambassador to Ireland Yury Filatov had described the expulsion by Britain of 23 diplomats as a "hostile action" and said it would "not go unanswered" and labelled reports in The Sunday Times of a scaling up in Russian spy infrastructure in Ireland as a "fabrication", and stated it was part of a wider "massive propaganda campaign against Russia" and accused the British government of acting in a "most irresponsible" and "aggressive way".[43]
  • Ambassador Alexander Shulgin to the Netherlands has told Sky News Europe Correspondent Mark Stone that all Russian chemical weapons were destroyed late last year as part of the Chemical Weapons Convention. He also invited investigators of the Salisbury poisoning to visit "any site" in Russia.[12]



  • Template:Flag: On 14 March 2018, NATO issued an official response to the attack. The alliance expressed its deep concern over the first offensive use of a nerve agent on its territory since its foundation and pointed out that the attack clearly was in breach of international treaties. It called on Russia to fully disclose its research of the Novichok agent to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.[44]
    • On March 27, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the move against the Russian diplomats sent a clear message to Moscow that its actions "had costs. What triggered this was the Salisbury attack. But it is part of a broader response by NATO allies to a pattern of unacceptable and dangerous behaviour by Russia. We have seen the illegal annexation of Crimea, we have seen the destabilisation of eastern Ukraine, we have seen cyberattacks, we have seen hybrid tactics, we have seen Russia investing heavily in modern military equipment and the willingness to use military force against neighbours."[45]
  • Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW): Director-General Ahmet Üzümcü, made a statement to a meeting of the executive council that the use of a nerve agent to poison the Skripals was "of serious concern" and added: "It is extremely worrying that chemical agents are still being used to harm people. Those found responsible for this use must be held accountable for their actions."[46]
    • "We support the call for a full and complete disclosure [of a “Novichok” nerve agent program] by the Russian Federation," Bulgaria's envoy told the OPCW executive council on behalf of the EU and added "we call on the Russian Federation to respond swiftly to the British government's legitimate questions and to co-operate with the OPCW."[47]
    • Permanent representative for France Francois Delattre said, "the haphazard re-emergence of these barbaric weapons with such deadly effects, which can be seen by their recurrent use in Syria and in the Middle East but also in Asia and now in Europe, cannot be tolerated."[48]
    • Ma Zhaoxu, China permanent representative to the UN, called for an "impartial investigation based on facts". He added, "we hope the relevant parties properly handle this issue through appropriate channels."[49]

European Union (EU)

  • On 26 March, the President of the European Council Donald Tusk tweeted, "Today 14 EU Member States decided to expel Russian diplomats as direct follow-up to #EUCO discussion last week on #SalisburyAttack. Additional measures including further expulsions are not excluded in coming days, weeks."[50]
  • European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans argued for "unequivocal, unwavering and very strong" European solidarity with the United Kingdom when speaking to lawmakers in Strasburg on 13 March.[51] Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, expressed shock and offered the block's support.[52] Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament's Brexit negotiator proclaimed solidarity with the British people.[53]
  • On 19 March, all foreign ministers of the European Union declared in a joint statement following a meeting in the Foreign Affairs Council that the EU strongly condemns the attack, and that it "takes extremely seriously the UK Government's assessment that it is highly likely that the Russian Federation is responsible"; further in the statement, "the EU welcomes the commitment of the UK to work closely with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in supporting the investigation into the attack," and it "calls on Russia to address urgently the questions raised by the UK and the international community" and "expresses its unqualified solidarity with the UK and its support, including for the UK's efforts to bring those responsible for this crime to justice."[54]
    • Nigel Farage, British MEP said on LBC about Theresa May: "I'm not criticising her for meeting people, I'm criticising her for going to the scene of a terrorist act and treating it like a street party."[55]
    • Estonian MEP Yana Toom said on social media, "Russia obviously had no operational interest in Skripal, who was convicted in 2006 and deprived of his military rank, who was pardoned in 2010 and then exchanged. Even if we presume that the Russians have gone irreversibly crazy — which specifically is what one is attempting to convince Europeans of — and are an embodiment of irrational evil, a demonstrative poisoning with Russian poison a week before the Russian presidential election would be idiocy.[56]

EU member states

  • Template:Flag: "We stand behind the decision to recall the EU ambassador, but we will not take any national measures," Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl said in a joint statement on 26 March who added, "Indeed, we want to keep the channels of communication to Russia open, Austria is a neutral country and sees itself as a bridge-builder between East and West."[57]
  • Template:Flag: A Belgian government official has confirmed the country has become the latest to side with the UK over the nerve agent attack by expelling one Russian diplomat. The decision came after a meeting of senior ministers on Tuesday 27 March.[58] A spokesperson for Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel later said it was "very likely" Russia was responsible for the Salisbury nerve agent attack and added, "Given the gravity of the events in Salisbury and the high probability of Russia's involvement in this attack, we consider this measure to be fully justified. The Russian ambassador will be notified about this decision within 48 hours. The person concerned will have 14 days to leave Belgium."[45]
  • Template:Flag: Prime Minister Andrej Plenković announced expulsion of one Russian diplomat in Croatia noting that "it is about a message of political solidarity considering the character of attack in United Kingdom who is our ally and a partner in EU and the NATO alliance".[59]
  • Template:Flag: Foreign Minister Martin Stropnický said that a suggestion from the Russian government that the Novichok could have been produced in the Czech Republic was "wholly unsubstantiated" and "highly speculative". He further added "we must protest at the claims of the origins of Novichok, which are wholly unsubstantiated. This is a classic way of manipulating information in the public space; releasing a highly speculative claim with no proof whatsoever. This information already appeared several days ago on the disinformation website Sputnik."[60]
    • On 15 March, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic had said it so far had not been contacted by the UK concerning expelling of Russian diplomats and that the matter would be debated and addressed at the European Union level.[61]
    • On 16 March, the Czech weekly magazine Respekt reported that the UK had informally asked the Czech Republic to expel Russian diplomats engaged in espionage.[62]
    • On 26 March, Czech Republic announced it will expel 3 Russian diplomats.[63]
  • Template:Flag: Denmark expressed full solidarity with the United Kingdom, and Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen stated "The Russian explanations of the incident are more or less imaginative, several of them are self-contradictory and are probably mostly a smokescreen to create doubt". On 26 March, Denmark announced that two diplomats will be expelled from the country, and they have been given a week to leave.[64]
  • Template:Flag: Foreign Minister Sven Mikser described the attack as a "brutal violation of international law and order", adding it "demonstrates complete disregard for human life and suffering. We offer our utmost support to our ally and friend the UK in its efforts to resolve the issue."[65] The prime minister of Estonia Jüri Ratas cancelled a planned trip to Russia in response to the attack.[66]
    • On 26 March, Estonia expelled Russian military attaché. Foreign Minister Sven Mikser said that the actions of the attaché had not been in line with those agreed upon in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.[67]
  • Template:Flag: On 26 March, the Finnish authorities stated "Finland immediately condemned the use of a chemical weapon in the attack and, together with other EU member states, gave its strong support to the UK. The attack in Salisbury poses a serious threat to the security of the whole of Europe", and announced that a diplomat from the Russian embassy in Helsinki has been expelled from the country.[68]
  • Template:Flag: French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called the incident "a totally unacceptable attack".[51] President Macron joined a statement, along with the leaders of the United Kingdom, the United States and Germany, saying: "The United Kingdom briefed thoroughly its allies that it was highly likely that Russia 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."[69]
    • On 26 March, along with action from the rest of the EU and US, France claimed it would expel 4 Russian diplomats.
  • Template:Flag: The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, condemned the attack "in the sharpest manner".[51] Norbert Röttgen, a former federal minister in Angela Merkel's government and chairman of Germany's parliamentary foreign affairs committee, said the incident demonstrated the need for Britain to review its open-door policy towards Russian capital of dubious origin.[70]
    • On 26 March, Germany announced it will too expel 4 Russian diplomats in response to the Salisbury attack.
  • Template:Flag: "Based on what was said at the session of the European Council, Hungary is expelling a Russian diplomat, who also performs espionage activities", the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade's Deputy State Secretary for Communication Tamás Menczer announced in a statement on 26 March.[71]
  • Template:Flag: Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni affirmed Italy's full support and solidarity with the UK and the leaders agreed on the need for continued international co-operation to maintain pressure on Russia. Italy decided to expel 2 Russian diplomats because personae non gratae.[72][12]
  • Template:Flag: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said " I'm really appalled and really shocked at what happened in Salisbury the other day. It doesn't matter where it is, no country should be involved in extra-territorial assassinations, it's not acceptable behaviour in world affairs and there can be no tolerance of any country using chemical weapons or chemical agents in any way."[73]
    • Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said that he had met with the Ambassador Yury Filatov and informed him "that the accreditation of a member of his staff with diplomatic status is to be terminated. The individual in question is required to leave the jurisdiction. The use of chemical weapons, including the use of any toxic chemicals, by anyone, anywhere, is particularly shocking and abhorrent. The attack in Salisbury was not just an attack against the United Kingdom, but an affront to the international rules-base system on which we all depend for our security and wellbeing."[74]
  • Template:Flag: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said "Latvia supports the UK's efforts of carrying out an investigation into the circumstances of the perpetrated crime."[49]
  • Template:Flag: Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius said on 15 March "Russia is always looking for weak points, and may feel the UK does not feel very strong," he said in an interview. "The Russian assumption may be that in the process of Brexit, the UK is weaker in terms of its isolation, and due to Brexit the EU will not be very enthusiastic in backing the UK up. Fortunately that is not the case, and we will support the UK, but Russia acts by testing for reactions."[75]
  • Template:Flag: Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said on the March the 27th that he was awaiting the result of the Salisbury investigation before making firm decisions on what physical action to take. However, there are only a very small number of Russian staff at the country's mission in Luxembourg and it is understood that not one of them has been connected to espionage.[76]
  • Template:Flag: President Andrzej Duda said that "the use of chemical weapons on the territory of our strategic ally cannot be left unanswered."[77] Additionally, Polish UN representative Joanna Wronecka said her country was "gravely concerned" about the Salisbury nerve agent attack. We condemn this unprecedented attack on the UK, the first of its kind in Europe since the Second World War. We express our full solidarity with the British people and government as well as our readiness to support our ally in the investigation."[78]
  • Template:Flag: The Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said this week that it "believes the coordination at the European level is the most effective means to respond to the gravity of the current situation".[76]
  • Template:Flag: The Foreign Ministry condemned the use of a military-grade nerve agent on an Allied state's territory and expressed "full solidarity" with the United Kingdom.[79] Liviu Dragnea, head of the governing Social Democratic Party, also condemned the attack, calling it a breach of international law.[80] Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Meleşcanu described the attack as an act of "political insanity".[81]
    • On 26 March, Romania announced it will be expelling 1 Russian diplomat from the country.[57]
  • Template:Flag: "The Slovak Republic unambiguously condemned the attack with the chemical weapon in Salisbury, UK, acknowledged the conclusions of the European Council on March 22, 2018, and reserved the right to take further steps in connection with this case", the Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Peter Susko said on 26 March.[82]
  • Template:Flag: The Ministry expresses grave concern over, and fully condemns, the nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. Slovenia stands in solidarity with the UK, which has always been our close ally and a friendly partner state. The attack is an abhorring act that violates international humanitarian law and the values and principles of humanity.[83]
  • Template:Flag: Minister of Foreign Affairs Alfonso Dastis issued a statement which said "the attack perpetrated in Salisbury through the use of a neurotoxic agent is a fact of extreme gravity that represents a serious threat to our collective security and international law". Spain subsequently announced the expulsion of two Russian diplomats from the embassy in Madrid, who have been given seven days to leave the country. Dastis explained that the decision adopted is in line with what was agreed by all the EU Member States during the European Council of 23 March.[84]
  • Template:Flag: Foreign Minister Margot Wallström tweeted that she "forcefully rejects (the) unacceptable and unfounded allegation" adding that "Russia should answer UK questions instead."[31] The Ambassador to the United Nations Olof Skoog also said, "We stand by the UK and express our strong solidarity in dealing with this grave security issue," he said.[78]
  • Template:Flag: Malta's government spokesman Kurt Farrugia said his country backed the UK and the expulsion of Russian diplomats but would not be expelling any themselves, he tweeted earlier, "[email protected] supports #UK, expulsion of Russian envoys. Not doing so ourselves because #Malta's diplomatic mission in Moscow is very small. Any response would effectively terminate diplomatic relations, which is beyond scope of action. Position understood by @GOVUK and @EUCouncil"[58]
  • Template:Flag: The Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, Stef Blok, said on twitter that the Netherlands strongly condemns the nerve agent attack in Salisbury. Furthermore, he said that the Netherlands stands by the British people and Prime Minister Theresa May, and fully supports the UK in its quest for truth.[85] However, Minister Blok also expressed that the Netherlands does at present not see Russia as the perpetrator of the crime. He did say that Russia is one of the few countries in the world capable of creating the nerve agent and it therefore is logical to want answers of Russia. More specifically, he wants Russia to provide information to the OPCW.[86]
    • On 26 March, the Netherlands announced it will expel 2 Russian diplomats.

CIS member states

  • Template:Flag: Moldova has asked three Russian diplomats to leave the country within seven days, in solidarity with Britain after the poisoning of a former Russian spy, the foreign ministry said on 27 March in a statement on its website.[87]
  • Template:Flag: Kazakhstan Ambassador to the UN Kairat Umarov had come out in support of Russia and said "since it is a very politically sensitive issue we should be extremely cautious and careful in drawing hasty conclusions without credible and convincing facts on the ground."[65]


  • Template:Flag: Prime Minister Edi Rama said on March 26th that the expulsions had been coordinated with fellow NATO countries and that "Russians who trod on the national interest will leave".[88]
  • Template:Flag: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship released a statement in which condemned the attack and expressed its solidarity with the victims. The government reaffirmed its commitment to the Chemical Weapons Convention.[89]
  • Template:Flag: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, issued a joint statement on Thursday saying the country is "considering its responses in support of the United Kingdom" over the Salisbury incident and added that Mrs May had made "a compelling case" on the Russian state's responsibility for the attack and Australia "stands with the UK in solidarity and supports, in the strongest terms, Prime Minister May's response," the statement said.[90][91]
  • Template:Flag: UN ambassador Sacha Sergio Llorenty Solíz stated "Bolivia expresses our firm and categoric condemnation of the use of chemical weapons, this is unjustifiable and criminal whoever commits these crimes and wherever they commit them. This is a serious threat to international security and we hope that an investigation will be carried out in a completely comprehensive way through the competent bodies."[78]
  • Template:Flag: The Ministry of Foreign affairs expressed concern about the use of chemical weapons forbidden by international conventions. Officials are closely monitoring the situation with regard to the expulsion of Russian diplomats in other countries, but Bosnia and Herzegovina is not planning to undertake similar measures.[92]
  • Template:Flag: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said "The attack is despicable and it is unacceptable that there would be chemical weapons used against citizens of the United Kingdom."[93] Canada later expelled four Russian diplomats.[94]
  • Template:Flag: On 27 March, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying called on the UK to "respect international law and the fundamental norms of international relations, as well as avoid escalation of confrontation. China is closely following the developments, we strongly oppose any use of chemical weapons, but we still believe that this issue should be properly resolved between the Russian Federation and the UK on the basis of facts."[95]
  • Template:Flag: UN Ambassador Tekeda Alemu expressed Ethiopia's "solidarity with victims as well as the people and government of the United Kingdom. We believe co-operation between Russia and the UK in good faith is very critical to ensure that this issue will not get out of hand and undermine even further relations between the two countries."[78]
  • Template:Flag: As a reaction to the poisoning on British soil, the Icelandic government have suspended high-level bilateral discussions with Russia. In addition, Icelandic officials will not be attending the 2018 FIFA World Cup held in Russia. Posted on the Government Offices of Iceland's website, Iceland stands "in solidarity with the United Kingdom and other western states and join in their coordinated response to the chemical attack in Salisbury in England"[96][97]
  • Template:Flag: A spokesman for its Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, "Israel views with gravity the event which took place in Great Britain and condemns it vigorously. We hope that the international community will cooperate in order to avoid such further events."[12]
  • Template:Flag: Ivory Coast Representative Bernard Tanoh-Boutchoue told the United Nations Security Council "We express our sincere solidarity to the authorities of the United Kingdom and wish full and speedy recovery to the contaminated. We have always condemned and continued condemning any use of chemical weapons whatever the form. We therefore request all possible light be shed on the event which took place in Salisbury."[78]
  • Template:Flag: Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said, "Japan has told the Russian side that it is unacceptable to use chemical weapons."[98]
  • Template:Flag: The foreign ministry said that after conferring with its "allies and partners, the EU and NATO", they will expell one Russian diplomat from the country since the illegal use of military-grade chemical weapons is in violation of the international law and that this affects the security of all countries. The Russian embassy in Macedonia reacted over Twitter by saying that this decision has no justification and that the full responsibility for the consequences lie entirely on the Macedonian side. "An exceptionally unfriendly, unjustified step that has no precedent in Russian-Macedonian relations" – the Russian embassy tweeted.[99] Later on foreign minister Nikola Dimitrov stated that the decision for expelling of the Russian diplomat other then the solidarity with Great Britain, also was made due to that the diplomat failed to obey his mandate and threatened homeland security.
  • Template:Flag: The Secretariat of Foreign Affairs condemned the nerve gas attack in the UK on 4 March and said on 26 March that it reserved the right to take diplomatic action, including the expulsion of officials, pending an investigation into the matter.[100]
  • Template:Flag: On 28 March 2018, The Montenegrin government notified an unidentified diplomat at the Russian Embassy in Podgorica to leave the country within seven days.[101]
  • Template:Flag: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said "This incident is a serious affront to accepted global rules and norms. The use of chemical weapons in any circumstances is totally repugnant, and New Zealand is deeply disturbed at any use of chemical substances banned by the Chemical Weapons Convention," she said.[102] Efforts to restart negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement between New Zealand and the Eurasian Customs Union were postponed by the New Zealand government as a result of the poisoning.[103]
  • Template:Flag: "On the basis of a broad evaluation – including reactions from partners and allies – we have decided today to order one diplomat at the Russian Embassy in Oslo to leave the country. This has been communicated to Russia's embassy in Oslo," Foreign Minister Ina Eriksen Søreide said in a press statement on 26 March.[104]
  • Template:Flag: UN ambassador Gustavo Meza-Cuadra said "we would like to express our grave concern at the use of a nerve agent in a public space which has seriously endangered the lives of at least three people in the United Kingdom. What has occurred is lamentable and we express our solidarity with the victims. The incident must be investigated in the framework of the rule of law and due process through the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and other competent bodies."[49]
  • Template:Flag: In a phone conversation with Vladimir Putin, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić assured his Russian counterpart that Serbia will not expel any Russian diplomats.[105][106]
  • Template:Flag: On 14 April 2018, Singapore noted the report of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and strongly condemned the chemical attack and wishes the victims of the attack in Salisbury a swift recovery.[107]
  • Template:Flag: On 26 March 2018, Switzerland sharply condemned the chemical attack using a nerve agent from the Novichok class but refrained from expelling Russian diplomats as this happened in the neighboring countries of the EU. The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (EDA) will draw conclusions after results of the toxicological investigation have been completed.[108][109][110]
  • Template:Flag: "The crisis with the former agent concerns relations between the Russian Federation and Great Britain. They must resolve this question among themselves. Turkey is not going to take any decisions with respect to Russia in this regard. We have good relations with Russia," the Vice-Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ said.[100][111]
  • Template:Flag: On 16 March a comment was posted on the official Twitter account of the president of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko: "The Kremlin's 'chemical attack' in the UK is nothing but an encroachment on British sovereignty. And our message to Russia is the same as that of British defense secretary Gavin Williamson: 'shut up and go away'." [112][113] Foreign minister Pavlo Klimkin said in a statement on 14 March, "This represents a very significant escalation in Russian aggression against a major western democracy and close ally of Ukraine. The Ukrainian government is monitoring this situation closely and we are speaking with senior officials in the UK government."[114]
    • On 26 March, Ukraine expelled 13 Russian diplomats.[115]
    • On 31 March Ukraine put on 5 years sanction list 48 diplomats expelled earlier from US and 12 from UN.[116]
  • Template:Flag: On 12 March 2018, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson released a statement that fully supported the stance of the UK government on the poisoning attack, including "its assessment that Russia was likely responsible for the nerve agent attack that took place in Salisbury".[117] The following day, US President Donald Trump said "It sounds to me like they believe it was Russia and I would certainly take that finding as fact. As soon as we get the facts straight, if we agree with them we will condemn Russia or whoever it may be. We're going to be sticking with the British."[118] Following this, over 40 US congressmen have written to Theresa May pledging their "full support" in taking on Vladimir Putin over the Salisbury spy attack.[119]
  • The countries Template:Flag, Template:Flag, Template:Flag, Template:Flag and Template:Flag supported Russia's motion calling for a joint investigation into the poisoning.[124]

Expulsion of Russian diplomats and suspected intelligence officers

Expelled Russian diplomats

By the end of March 2018 a number of countries and other organisations expelled Russian diplomats in a show of solidarity with the UK in "the largest collective expulsion of Russian intelligence officers in history":[125][126][127]

The UK expelled 23 Russian diplomats on March 14. Russia expelled an equal number, and announced closure of the UK consulate in St Petersberg and closure of the British Council in Russia. News outlets reported on Mar 23 that 10 EU nations were considering the expulsion of Russian diplomats. Nine of these nations took such action three days later, along with 6 other EU nations, the USA, Canada, Ukraine and Albania. The following day other nations inside and outside of the EU, and NATO responded similarly. On March 30, Russia expelled an equal number of diplomats tit-for-tat against most nations who had expelled Russian diplomats. By that time, Belgium, Montenegro, Hungary and Georgia had also expelled one or more Russian diplomats. Additionally on March 30, Russia reduced the size of the total UK mission to Russia to match that of the Russian mission to the UK.

Country / Organisation Diplomats expelled Date announced Notes Response by Russia Date announced
Template:Flag 2 Mar 26 2 diplomats expelled by Russia.[128] Mar 30
Template:Flag 2 Mar 27 2 diplomats expelled by Russia.[128] Mar 30
Template:Flag 1 Mar 27 1 diplomat expelled (the economic attaché).[129] Apr 4
Template:Flag 4 [130] Mar 26 4 diplomats expelled. 3 pending applications declined 4 diplomats expelled by Russia.[128] Mar 30
Template:Flag 1 Mar 26 1 diplomat expelled by Russia.[128] Mar 30
Template:Flag 3 Mar 26 3 diplomats expelled by Russia.[128] Mar 30
Template:Flag 2 Mar 26 2 diplomats expelled by Russia.[128] Mar 30
Template:Flag 1 Mar 26 1 diplomat expelled by Russia.[128] Mar 30
Template:Flag 1 Mar 26 1 diplomat expelled by Russia.[128] Mar 30
Template:Flag 4 Mar 26 4 diplomats expelled by Russia.[128] Mar 30
Template:Flag 4 Mar 26 4 diplomats expelled by Russia.[128] Mar 30
Template:Flag 1 [131] Mar 30
Template:Flag 1 Mar 26
Template:Flag 1 Mar 27 1 diplomats expelled by Russia.[128] Mar 30
Template:Flag 2 Mar 26 2 diplomats expelled by Russia.[128] Mar 30
Template:Flag 1 Mar 26 1 diplomat expelled by Russia.[128] Mar 30
Template:Flag 3 Mar 26 3 diplomats expelled by Russia.[128] Mar 30
Template:Flag 1 Mar 26 1 diplomat expelled by Russia.[128] Mar 30
Template:Flag 3 Mar 27 3 diplomats expelled by Russia.[128] Mar 30
Template:Flag 1 [132] Mar 28
Template:Flag 10 [126] Mar 27 7 expelled and 3 pending applications declined. Maximum delegation reduced by 10
Template:Flag 2 Mar 26 2 diplomats expelled by Russia.[128] Mar 30
Template:Flag 1 Mar 26 1 diplomat expelled by Russia.[128] Mar 30
Template:Flag 4 Mar 26 4 diplomats expelled by Russia.[128] Mar 30
Template:Flag 1 Mar 26 1 diplomat expelled by Russia.[128] Mar 30
Template:Flag 2 Mar 26 2 diplomats expelled by Russia.[128] Mar 30
Template:Flag 1 Mar 26 1 diplomats expelled by Russia.[128] Mar 30
Template:Flag 13 Mar 26 13 diplomats expelled by Russia.[128] Mar 30
Template:Flag 23 Mar 14 23 UK diplomats expelled by Russia.

British consulate in St Petersburg closed. British Council closure.

Mar 17
UK diplomatic mission to Russia reduced in size to match Russian mission to UK. Requires the UK to recall a further 27 officials. Mar 30
Template:Flag 60 Mar 26 Russian consulate in Seattle closed

Including 12 delegated to the United Nations in New York

60 US diplomats expelled by Russia.

US consulate in St Petersburg closed

Mar 30

Bulgaria, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and the European Union itself have not expelled any Russian diplomats but have recalled their ambassadors from Russia for consultations.[133][134][135][136][137][138] Furthermore, Iceland has decided to diplomatically boycott the 2018 FIFA World Cup held in Russia.[139]

2018 FIFA World Cup

In response to the March 2018 poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, British Prime Minister Theresa May announced that no British ministers or members of the royal family would attend the World Cup.[140] Furthermore, Iceland has also decided to diplomatically boycott the 2018 FIFA World Cup held in Russia.[141]

The England national football team manager Gareth Southgate said his players are still preparing to attend the World Cup in Russia, adding: "There is no doubt in my mind that is what we should be doing." When asked if the developing response to the Salisbury attack could see the Government lead a boycott of the World Cup, Mr Southgate said: "I think it is a matter that is completely out of my control. "We are desperate to go to the World Cup. That is really where my remit ends at that matter." However, he added that it will be an "individual choice" for England supporters as to whether they travel to Russia in June.[142]

The Russian government-funded TV network, RT, announced José Mourinho as its main pundit for the 2018 FIFA World Cup a day after the incident in Salisbury, but he had repeatedly refused to answer any questions about the role. In a statement given to Press Association Sport, Rhondda MP Chris Bryant said "To my mind, this is blood money, paid directly from the Russian state coffers".[143]


Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby described the attack on former spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury as a "terrible event" and said those responsible should be "held accountable".[144]


Giles Wood and Mary Killen, a couple on Channel 4 Gogglebox have suggested that Mossad was responsible for the Salisbury nerve agent attack, their comments were made during the segment of the show featuring news coverage of the attack. A Channel 4 spokesperson explained that the show's fans, who are accustomed to the couple's musings, would understand that the comments were not intended to be taken seriously and said "the Gogglebox families, like members of the public all over the UK, were speculating about the Salisbury attack. Five families were shown discussing it and theories ranged from Sherlock Holmes to film plots."[145]


In light of Arsenal FC being drawn against CSKA Moscow in the quarter finals of the Europa League, CSKA have immediately said "We are happy to play Arsenal and don't see any danger for English fans that would like to come to Moscow, we have already played against Manchester United this season in Moscow and everything went well.". Additionally, Arsenal issued a statement on their website. "Due to heightened political tensions between the UK and Russia, you should be aware of the possibility of anti-British sentiment or harassment at this time; you're advised to remain vigilant, avoid any protests or demonstrations and avoid commenting publicly on political developments."[146] The British Embassy in Moscow also published an article on the website, further reiterating the point that Britons should try to avoid protests amid several points regarding general information (not all were relating to the incident in Salisbury).[147]

Lord Sebastian Coe, President of the International Association of Athletics Federations expressed his feelings when asked about May reaction; "I have always believed that sport actually is an extremely useful vehicle for maintaining relationships. Actually there's a permanency about them and you have to be quite careful when you don't always recognise maybe the impact that sport has can be quite a conciliatory one. So I'm really clear, I'm not remotely observing the political landscape, that's not my responsibility remotely, but I think where possible it's always better to try and maintain good, strong sporting relationships. The world is complex, we all know that, but I genuinely do think sport has a very important role to play in trying to help sometimes just normalise situations," he told the Press Association in Los Angeles.[148]


Former President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, now living in exile in Amsterdam, said "I think that for some reason Russia believed that the UK would be softer on Russia than, say, the United States."[149]

The former First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond said "To succeed the evidence has to be overwhelming and the case cast iron ­— as the leader of the opposition correctly pointed out to the Prime Minister. He didn't get much support for making that point in the House of Commons — but that does not make him wrong."[150]

Tony Brenton, who was the UK Ambassador to Russia between 2004 and 2008, has accused European countries of failing to give support to the UK when Alexander Litvinenko was murdered in 2006 while on BBC Newsnight and added "I was the Ambassador at the time of the Litvinenko affair and the lack of allied support from then was pretty disappointing. The Americans were disposed to be helpful, but the Europeans, in particular, were not, over and beyond rhetoric."[151]

Vladimir Posner said that relations between the UK and Russia are the worst he has ever known and also addressed UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson's call for Russia to "go away and shut up", saying such remarks would inevitably stoke anti-Western feeling.[152]

Ex-Prime Minister of Finland and Nokia Executive Vice President of Corporate Relations and Responsibility Esko Aho said on that the attempted murders of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury represent an unusual and frightening phenomenon. Aho also speculated on possible direct Russian involvement and said "If Russia or Russian agents were behind this, that would present two possibilities," he said. "Either the Russian government was directly involved, or the toxin ended up in the wrong hands. Both scenarios are very bad."[153]

Craig Murray, a former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, wrote an article in which he stated that "The UK government has absolutely no "fingerprint" information such as impurities that can safely attribute this substance to Russia."[154]

General Sir Michael David Jackson, who was the head of the British Army between 2003 and 2006, was asked if the British Army was ready for a threat from the Russians by Express & Star on a visit to the West Midlands, said Vladimir Putin had become a 'latter day Tsar' and went on to say, "readiness is where it is ought to be at the moment. If the tension rises it may be necessary to reduce 'notice to move' on parts of the army which are not at the moment on a 'quick move' basis, but these are judgements which are made as situations develop. I'm more worried about the size of the Army, which is authorised at 82,000 but actually stands at about 78–79,000 at the moment ­– quite small for a nation of our size and wealth."[155]

The former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev expressed his views, telling ITV that the poisoning of ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, is "horrible and disgusting" and added "time will tell" who was behind the attack.[156]

"Russia is behaving like a rogue nation. She cannot be ignored. The British experience suggests Russia will also use murder as a sanction in other countries' territories. What happened in the U.K. is just one example of Russia's attempt to flex its muscles both diplomatically and militarily, Moscow has also had a hand in the Syrian civil war, influenced elections overseas and conducted cyberattacks globally, he said. All that happened because Russia, under President Vladimir Putin, wants to show that the country still matters on the international stage. The root cause, it seems to me, is clear, Russia was once, as the Soviet Union, a super power, but it is no more. To compensate, Putin wishes his people to see their president standing up to the economic and political super powers of the world." the former Prime Minister Sir John Major of the UK said to the Credit Suisse Asian Investment Conference in Hong Kong.[157]

Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter emphasised on Twitter that the tournament huge following should be catered to as he stressed that "no boycott" would take place and that "Football has up to two billion followers. FIFA-World Cup 2018 in Russia, the most important sport event in the world. Therefore no boycott! Let's play the game in peace and for peace!"[158]

Speaking to Sky News, former President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko said "I have no doubt (that Russia carried out the attack). I want western society, western governments and European governments in particular, to have no doubt too. "I totally agree with the British position. I am glad that it has received international support and solidarity. I think politically it is a very important position that is being developed with a united Europe and the United States. But I don't want it to end there with this single step, which we use to confront the modern imperial Russian policy."[159]

The Australian journalist Tom Switzer, writing for the Lowy Institute, has argued against the current regime of sanctions without public evidence of the involvement of the Russian State.[160]

See also


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