Ursula von der Leyen, Germany’s defense minister in the most strongly worded statement yet on the Sergei Skripal nerve agent poisoning, said that the Russians were most certainly behind the attack and tied this into the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
Von der Leyen appeared Thursday on Morgen Magazin, a joint breakfast show by public broadcasters ARD and ZDF and stated that the Russians must cooperate in the investigation and vowed “consequences”.
The nerve agent attack was a “serious violation of international agreements on chemical weapons,” she said.
Britain has said it was “highly likely” Moscow was behind the attack, or that it had “lost control” of the military-grade nerve agent used against ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia nearly two weeks ago. The two remain in critical condition.
“It’s the very first time since World War II that a horrible chemical weapon has been used on European soil,” von der Leyen said, demanding Russia contribute to providing clarity on the incident.
Russia has denied any involvement in the nerve-agent attack, which prompted a UN Security Council meeting on Wednesday.
Tom Tugendhat, a British MP and chairman of the foreign affairs committee in the House of Commons, told DW that Russia’s actions were “war-like.”
“Had [this chemical] been opened on the London Underground, for example, it would have killed hundreds of people. And to use it next to a children’s playground, where, had the children been there, it would have killed 30 or 40 children. This is a completely unacceptable, war-like act by a violent, deranged regime that is weakening and lashing out. This is a corrupt dictatorship that has to stop,” he said.
Von der Leyen also tied the UK nerve-agent attack to events in Syria, where Russia is allied with President Bashar al-Assad. The Syrian regime has been accused of using banned chemical agentsagainst civilians and rebels.
“We see the Assad-allied forces using poison gas. Russia is the one the allies of Assad. That’s why it’s crucial for Russia to clarify what happened there,” von der Leyen said.
The outrage of the brazen attack on Skripal in the UK is opening up the investigations of more than just his attack. And the European NATO countries are going to be watching the events closely. But if history is any indication, the Russians won’t stop what they’ve always done and Putin’s administration will only grow stronger.
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