US, Germany and France back UK over attack on ex-spy

Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Sergei Ryabkov in Helsinki, Finland on Sept 12, 2017.
Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Sergei Ryabkov in Helsinki, Finland on Sept 12, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

The United States, Germany and France formally backed Britain's claims of likely Russian links to a chemical toxin attack against a former spy, calling it the "first offensive use of a nerve agent" in Europe since World War II.

In a rare joint statement, the leaders of the four countries said the attack threatened "the security of us all". They called on Russia to provide "full and complete disclosure" of the Soviet-era chemical programme that developed the nerve agent Novichok.

Russia has denied any involvement in the poisoning, and vowed a swift response to Britain's expulsion of its diplomats.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said yesterday that neither Russia nor the Soviet Union had run a programme to develop the Novichok nerve gas.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 16, 2018, with the headline 'US, Germany and France back UK over attack on ex-spy'. Print Edition | Subscribe