Advertisements
Image

UK Submarines Move Within Missile Range Of Syria As Theresa May Convenes ‘War Cabinet’

Iain Burns
British Prime Minister Theresa May. (Photo by MICHAEL CAMPANELLA/Getty Images)© Getty British Prime Minister Theresa May. (Photo by MICHAEL CAMPANELLA/Getty Images)

 

Theresa May was poised last night to defy calls for a Commons vote on military action in Syria

The Prime Minister summoned ministers back to London to seek their support for joining an American-led attack on the Assad regime within days.

Clearing the way for action, she declared the use of chemical weapons could not go unchallenged and said ‘all the indications’ suggested that Bashar Assad’s forces were responsible for Saturday’s atrocity near Damascus.

Military chiefs are said to have ordered British submarines armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles to move within range of Syria.

a small boat in a body of water: General Sir Richard Barrons, a former commander of Joint Forces Command, said Russia's warnings that launch platforms could be targeted in response to air strikes meant 'they are going to try and sink ships, sink submarines and shoot aircraft out of the sky - that's war'© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited General Sir Richard Barrons, a former commander of Joint Forces Command, said Russia’s warnings that launch platforms could be targeted in response to air strikes… 

Despite fears of a military confrontation with Russia, no preparations are being made to recall MPs from their Easter recess. It is understood No 10 believes it can launch a one-off, punitive strike without consulting Parliament.

Donald Trump dramatically escalated the crisis yesterday by telling Russia to ‘get ready’ because ‘nice and new and smart’ cruise missiles would be coming.

He warned Vladimir Putin not to stand by President Assad, who he described as a ‘gas killing animal’.

a close up of a newspaper            © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited 

Russia’s ambassador to Lebanon had said his country was ready to target US planes and ships if they fired at Syrian regime forces. That would effectively lead to a state of war, according to Sir Richard Barrons, a senior former military commander.

And Julian Lewis, who chairs the Commons defence committee, was among MPs to warn of the risks of intervention. ‘Embroiling ourselves in a military clash with Russia in the context of a civil war between an inhumane government and opposition-controlled by jihadi fanatics is not a sensible one, to put it mildly,’ he said.

In other developments:

British officials were said to be in talks with their counterparts in France and the US about which military assets should be deployed for military action.

a group of people standing around a table: Mrs May has said Britain will co-ordinate its response to the incident in the rebel-held town of Douma - where at least 40 people are reported to have been killed - with the US and France© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Mrs May has said Britain will coordinate its response to the incident in the rebel-held town of Douma – where at least 40 people are reported to have been killed -… 

‘We are committed to deter and prevent the use of chemical weapons,’ said a government source.

‘We now have to establish the best way of getting there, and those conversations are carrying on, officials are speaking to their counterparts in France and America right now. In terms of precisely what happens next, that is still to be confirmed.’

The PM will hold a Cabinet meeting this afternoon. Ministers were understood to be privately urging her to act, although is not clear whether the British public would support an expansion of military action in Syria.

Brexit Secretary David Davis voted against military action against the Assad regime in 2013.

Speaking on a visit to Birmingham yesterday, Mrs May said: ‘The continued use of chemical weapons cannot go unchallenged.’

Asked whether she was concerned about Mr Trump’s tweet, she replied: ‘We are working with our allies, we have been working to get an understanding of what happened on the ground. We are rapidly reaching that understanding. All the indications are that the Syrian regime was responsible.

‘We will be working with our closest allies on how we can ensure that those who are responsible are held to account and how we can prevent and deter the humanitarian catastrophe that comes from the use of chemical weapons in the future.’

Tory MP Mr Lewis insisted there should be a vote before the UK took action. ‘There is a real danger that what starts out as justified punishment for the use of chemical weapons ends up with the Royal Air Force serving as the air arm of the jihadi extremist rebels in Syria,’ he said.

The U.S. has maintained its threat of rocket attacks in response to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad's sickening chemical attack on the rebel-held town of Douma on Saturday© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The U.S. has maintained its threat of rocket attacks in response to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s sickening chemical attack on the rebel-held town of Douma…

‘It sends a very bad signal to the country that they don’t submit themselves to parliamentary scrutiny before involving in taking military action by choice in the context of a civil war where both sides equally atrocious.’

Tory colleague Bob Seely said: ‘Trump is declaring war on Twitter. Both Trump and Putin need to remember what the stakes are.

‘This crisis could escalate very quickly into a shooting war in Syria. If Russians are injured, the Kremlin will hit back. The most important thing our generation can achieve is to avoid actual conflict with Russia.

‘If we are reckless or thoughtless in our actions, it will make conflict now or in future more likely to happen.’

Russia’s ambassador to Lebanon, Alexander Zasypkin, said any US missiles fired at Syria would be shot down along with the ships or planes that fired them.

He told Hezbollah’s Al Manar TV: ‘If there is a strike by the Americans then … the missiles will be downed and even the sources from which the missiles were fired.’

Then, in the early hours of yesterday morning, Mr Trump responded on Twitter, saying: ‘Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and smart! You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it.’

In a further tweet 40 minutes later, he said: ‘Our relationship with Russia is worse now that it has ever been, and that includes the Cold War.

‘There is no reason for this. Russia needs us to help with their economy.’

Russia’s foreign ministry spokesman responded by saying ‘smart missiles should fly towards terrorists, not lawful government’.

General Barrons, who led the UK’s joint forces command until 2016, said of the Russian ambassador’s warning: ‘He is saying not only are they going to shoot down the missiles in flight, but by saying launch sites, he is saying they are going to try and sink ships, sink submarines and shoot aircraft out of the sky. That’s war.’

Charles Crawford, former British Ambassador to Bosnia, warned the range of options for dealing with the crisis varied between ‘terrible and catastrophic’.

Don’t attack without a vote, MPs from all parties urge May 

MPs from across Parliament last night urged Theresa May to change her mind as she prepared to launch military action against Bashar al-Assad without a Commons vote.

Cabinet sources said there was now a ‘broad view’ in Downing Street that the Prime Minister does not need to seek the approval of MPs before launching strikes.

Some senior Tories yesterday joined Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the SNP in demanding MPs are given a say, as they warned of the dangers of how the crisis could escalate.Since the Iraq War a precedent has been set that all military action abroad is first approved by Parliament, but sources last night told the Mail that no preparations have been made for MPs to return to Westminster before Monday when their Easter recess ends.

When asked if she would recall parliament yesterday, Mrs May declined to answer the question directly. Tory MP Sir David Amess said the Prime Minister needed to come to the Commons before retaliating against Assad following the chemical weapons attack in Syria.

He said: ‘I think we have to look at this situation very, very carefully because since I have been in Parliament we have been involved in conflicts in Iraq and in Afghanistan. Neither with terribly good outcomes.’

a circuit board              © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited 

All three of the main opposition parties – Labour, the SNP and Liberal Democrats – yesterday called on Mrs May to hold a Commons vote before embarking on the action.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: ‘Parliament should always be given a say on military action. That’s a case that I’ve made going back many, many years in parliament.

‘Listen, what happened last weekend was terrible.

‘What we don’t want is bombardment which leads to escalation and leads to a hot war between Russia and America over the skies of Syria,’ he added.

 Jeremy Corbyn’s brother has claimed the chemical weapons attack in Syria was a hoax. Piers Corbyn retweeted a fake news video from a US conspiracy theory website and tagged his brother in the tweet.

Piers Corbyn tweeted: ‘Video of Syria chemical attack is fake news. Some actors masked, others not in danger zone. Slosh water on children to cry. That’s it!’

The video, on the Infowars website, suggests the attack on Douma was not carried out by the Assad regime and was the work of actors.

Daily Mail

www.twitter.com/RNNetwork1

Continue reading

Advertisements
Image

Theresa May Gives Strong Signal UK Could Back Military Intervention After Call With Donald Trump (Video)

By Gordon Rayner, Political Editor and Ben Riley-Smith, US Editor
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May              © Reuters Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May

 

Theresa May has given her strongest signal yet that Britain would support President Donald Trump in military action against the Syrian regime as the two leaders resolved “not to allow the use of chemical weapons to continue”.

The Prime Minister spoke to both Mr Trump and the French President Emmanuel Macron by telephone during which all three agreed that President Bashar al-Assad had shown “total disregard” for international laws against the use of such weapons.

A Trump official upped the diplomatic tension by describing the chemical attack on Douma, Syria, as “genocide” and saying a military response was “appropriate”.

Related: Theresa May condemns ‘barbaric attack’ in Syria ( ITN News )

 

Mr Macron said the three countries would decide “within days” how to respond and discussed the possibility of hitting Syria’s “chemical capacities”. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said: “All options are on the table.”

It came as Russia used its veto power at the UN Security Council on Tuesday evening against a US resolution to create a new expert body to determine responsibility for Syria chemical weapons attacks, a move expected to increase the likelihood of US military intervention.

a man and a woman looking at the camera                     © Provided by The Telegraph

Whitehall sources suggest Mrs May would prefer to have the backing of Parliament in any decision to join a military response against Syria, but with both Mr Trump and Mr Macron eager to strike swiftly, that option is unlikely to be open to the Prime Minister.

The Telegraph has learnt that no plans have been put in place to recall MPs before Monday, when they will return after the Easter recess, suggesting MrsMay has resigned herself to taking the decision in conjunction with her Cabinet, rather than seeking the support of the Commons.

a man wearing a suit and tie                      © Provided by The Telegraph

Downing Street issued a more cautious statement that the White House, in which Number 10 said that the chemical attack “if confirmed” would represent fresh evidence of Assad’s “appalling cruelty”.

The White House’s version of the conversation between Mrs May and MrTrump contained no such caveat, saying simply that “both leaders condemned Syrian President Assad’s vicious disregard for human life”.

Decisions on deploying the Armed Forces are covered by Royal prerogative, meaning there is no legal requirement for Mrs May to seek the permission of Parliament to take part in air strikes.

A precedent has in recent years been established for giving Parliament a vote on military interventions, but Mrs May is aware that David Cameron suffered an embarrassing defeat over military action in Syria in 2013.

           © getty

Boris Johnson is among those who believe there is no need for a vote, while Tom Tugendhat, Tory chairman of the foreign affairs committee, said there was a “clear case for action”.

Tony Blair, the former prime minister who set a precedent in 2003 for Parliament having a vote on military action abroad, said there was no need for a vote in the case of air strikes, rather than using ground forces.

This photo released by the Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows smoke rising after Syrian government airstrikes hit in the town of Douma, in eastern Ghouta region east of Damascus, Syria, Saturday, April. 7, 2018. Syrian government forces pressed their offensive against the last rebel-held town in eastern Ghouta near the capital Damascus on Saturday under the cover of airstrikes as shelling of civilian areas on both sides claimed more lives, state media and opposition activists said. (Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets via AP)© The Associated Press This photo released by the Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows smoke rising after Syrian government…

 

But Julian Lewis, the Conservative chair of the Commons defence select committee, said that while Governments might have to act first and seek MPs’ approval later if the UK was under attack, a strike on another country was another matter, and Tory MP Bob Seely said the “right to debate should rest with Parliament”.

More than 40 MPs from opposition parties signed a motion calling for a vote on military action and Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, called for a political solution in Syria rather than “megaphone diplomacy across the floor of the UN Security Council” between the US and Russia.

Mrs May chaired a meeting of the National Security Council, which includes the heads of Britain’s intelligence agencies, the Armed Forces and senior ministers, but Downing Street refused to discuss what it had decided.

A team of inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is on its way to Douma and Mrs May said: “Obviously we are working urgently with our allies and partners to assess what has happened on the ground.

“If this is the responsibility of Assad’s regime in Syria then it’s yet another example of the brutality and brazen disregard for their people that they show.”

However, President Trump appears to be in no mood to wait for the inspectors’ findings, having said on Monday that he would decide within 48 hours how to respond. On Tuesday he cancelled a planned trip to Latin America in order to prepare to US response to the chemical attack.

Mr Trump is under growing pressure from Republican senators to follow through his tough rhetoric over the Syrian chemical attack with a military response.

The United Nations Security Council meet and hear remarks from U.N. Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura via video broadcast, Monday April 9, 2018 at U.N. headquarters. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)© The Associated Press The United Nations Security Council meet and hear remarks from U.N. Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura via video broadcast, Monday, April 9, 2018, at U.N. headquarters. (AP…

Lindsay Graham, the Republican senator for South Carolina who regularly plays golf with Mr Trump, said that Mr Assad himself should be a target in any air strikes.

Mr Graham said that if Mr Trump failed to launch an attack it would be “the biggest mistake of his presidency”, leaving America looking “unreliable in the eyes of our allies”.

Kay Hutchison, US Permanent Representative to Nato, said: “We would call on Russia to do something. They are propping up Assad. They are helping him. They should do something to stop this kind of genocide. I think a military response is appropriate.”

Asked how Assad’s use of chemical weapons could be stopped, she said: “I think we do everything we can with the tools we have. I believe a military response, taking out perhaps some of the places where perhaps these missions are taking place, with the bases from which they are flying to drop chemical weapons, I think that is an appropriate response.

“The President is talking to other allies, I hope they will come to an agreement on a concerted effort.”

A Downing Street spokesman said of Mrs May’s calls with President Trump and President Macron: “They agreed that reports of a chemical weapons attack in Syria were utterly reprehensible and if confirmed, represented further evidence of the Assad regime’s appalling cruelty against its own people and total disregard for its legal obligations not to use these weapons.

“They agreed that the international community needed to respond to uphold the worldwide prohibition on the use of chemical weapons.

“They agreed they would continue working closely together and with international partners to ensure that those responsible were held to account.”

Mr Johnson criticised Russia after it vetoed an US-drafted resolution at the United Nations to create a new body to determine responsibility for the suspected Syria chemical weapons attack.

The Foreign Secretary described the move as “hugely disappointing” and accused Russia of “holding the Syrian people to political ransom”.   (The Telegraph)

www.twitter.com/RNNetwork1

Continue reading

Image

(Video) Trump Says Syria Decision Imminent As Russia Warns Of ‘Grave Consequences’

Julian Borger
Trump says US will ‘forcefully’ respond to Syria ‘chemical weapons attack’

 Video provided by Press Association

The US and Russia moved closer to a direct confrontation over Syria on Monday night as Donald Trump said a decision was imminent on a response to a chemical weapon attack on Saturday, and Moscow warned that any US military action would have “grave repercussions”.

U.S. President Donald Trump receives a briefing from senior military leadership accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence and new National Security Adviser John Bolton (R) at the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, DC, U.S. April 9, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria© REUTERS U.S. President Donald Trump receives a briefing from senior military leadership accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence and new National Security Adviser John Bolton (R) at the Cabinet Room of…

Trump met US generals in the White House cabinet room on Monday evening to discuss how to react to the poison gas attack in Douma, a rebel-held suburb of Damascus, reported to have killed more than 40 people and seriously affected hundreds.

The US and its allies have accused the regime of Bashar al-Assad of carrying out the attack, and Trump himself said Vladimir Putin, by backing Assad, bore some responsibility.

Vassily Nebenzia, center, Russia’s permanent representative to the United Nations, addresses an emergency UN security council meeting in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria at United Nations headquarters in New York on Monday.© EPA Vassily Nebenzia, centre, Russia’s permanent representative to the United Nations, addresses an emergency UN security council meeting in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria at…

 

Russia has claimed there was no chemical weapons attack on Douma or, if there was, it was staged by Western-backed rebels.

“So we’re going to make a decision tonight, or very shortly thereafter,” Trump told reporters as he entered the meeting, accompanied by his new national security advisor, John Bolton. “And you’ll be hearing the decision. But we can’t let atrocities like we all witnessed … we can’t let that happen.”

“We have a lot of options, militarily,” the president added. “And we’ll be letting you know pretty soon. Probably after the fact.”

President Donald Trump, fourth from right, speaks in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, April 9, 2018, at the start of a meeting with military leaders. Trump is flanked by Vice President Mike Pence, left, and national security adviser John Bolton, right. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)© ASSOCIATED PRESS President Donald Trump, fourth from right, speaks in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, April 9, 2018, at the start of a meeting with military leaders. Trump is…

The meeting ended after less than an hour. Asked how his first day was going, Bolton replied: “What could go wrong?”

Before meeting the generals, Trump called Macron, who has also threatened military action if the Syrian regime is proven to have carried out a chemical weapons attack. The White House issued a statement saying the US and French presidents would “continue their coordination on responding to Syria’s atrocious use of chemical weapons on April 7”.

The sharply escalating tensions between the US and Russia boiled over at an angry session of the UN security council session on Monday.

The French UN envoy, Francois Delattre, said the symptoms of the victims suggested that they had been exposed to “a powerful neurotoxic agent, combined with chlorine to enhance its lethal effect”. Delattre added that only Syrian forces had the means and the motive to make such weapons and carry out such an attempt.

United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks during a Security Council meeting at U.N. headquarters, Monday, April 9, 2018. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)© ASSOCIATED PRESS United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks during a Security Council meeting at U.N. headquarters, Monday, April 9, 2018. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

The US ambassador, Nikki Haley, lashed out at Moscow for its unstinting backing of Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian leader. She referred to Moscow as the “Russian regime, whose hands are all covered in the blood of Syrian children”.

Haley’s Russian counterpart, Vassily Nebenzia, complained that “Russia is being unpardonably threatened” and claimed both that Russian investigators had found no evidence of a chemical attack in Douma, and that it had been staged by rebels, trained in carrying out false-flag provocations by US special forces.

A man is washed following alleged chemical weapons attack, in what is said to be Douma, Syria in this still image from video obtained by Reuters on April 8, 2018. White Helmets/Reuters TV via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.© Thomson Reuters A man is washed following alleged chemical weapons attacks, in what is said to be Douma, Syria in this still images from video obtained by Reuters on April 8, 2018. White Helmets/Reuters…

“There was no chemical weapons attack,” Nebenzia told the council. “Through the relevant channels we already conveyed to the US that armed forces under mendacious pretext against Syria – where, at the request of the legitimate government of a country, Russian troops have been deployed – could lead to grave repercussions.”

A few hours earlier, Donald Trump said his administration was on the brink of deciding its response to the Douma attack. “We are meeting with our military and everybody else, and we’ll be making some major decisions over the next 24 to 48 hours,” he said at a cabinet meeting. “We are very concerned when a thing like that can happen. This is about humanity … and it can’t be allowed to happen.”

Pressed by reporters, Trump went further, saying: “We’ll be making that decision very quickly, probably by the end of today. But we cannot allow atrocities like that. Cannot allow it.”

Trump ordered airstrikes against a Syrian airbase after a previous chemical weapons attack, in April last year. The latest use of poison gasprovoked from Trump unprecedented direct criticism of Putin, something he had previously been at pains to avoid.

Asked if Putin bore responsibility for the Douma attack, Trump replied: “Yeah, he may. And if he does, it’s going to be very tough.

“Everybody is going to pay a price,” Trump said. “He will. Everybody will.”

Addressing the council chamber by video, the UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, expressed concern that the Syrian conflict was becoming a threat to peace and security far beyond the region, pointing to the major powers being drawn into the war, and pointing to airstrikes on a Syrian regime airbase east of Homs on Sunday, which are widely believed to have been carried out by Israel and aimed principally at Iranian forces there. Tehran has reported that four of its advisers were killed in the airstrikes.

At the security council session, the US proposed a resolution demanding a return to an independent UN mechanism to investigate chemical weapons attacks in Syria, along the lines of an earlier investigative panel that Russia dissolved by vetoing its continued work in November.

“We have reached the moment when the world must see justice done,” Haley said. “History will record this as the moment when the UN security council either discharged its duty or demonstrated its utter and complete failure to protect the people of Syria. Either way, the United States will respond.”

In his address, Nebenzia suggested a visit to Douma by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) might be possible under Syrian and Russian military protection. The UK envoy to the UN, Karen Pierce, said the Russian proposal was “an offer worth pursuing” but she added that OPCW inspectors would have to have complete freedom of action and of access.     (The Guardian)

www.twitter.com/RNNetwork1

Continue reading

Image

‘You’re Playing With Fire And You Will Be Sorry’ Russia Warns Britain Over Nerve Agent Attack

Ben Glaze
<span>Russian diplomat Vassily Nebenzia</span> © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Russian diplomat Vassily Nebenzia  

Russia lashed out at Britain tonight, warning: “You are playing with fire, and you’ll be sorry.”

Speaking at a special meeting of the UNSC, called by Moscow, permanent representative Vassily Nebenzia claimed the only way victims Sergey and Yulia Skripal could have survived a novichok attack was if an antidote was available nearby.

He told the council it was “lucky” that Porton Down, which he claimed was “well know for producing chemical weapons” was nearby.

Mr Nebenzia claimed Britain was waging a “coordinated campaign – prepared in advance – to discredit and delegitimize Russia.”

And he branded claims Russia was behind the attack, a “theatre of the absurd”, asking British representatives: “Couldn’t you come up with a better fake story?”

It comes as poisoning victim Yulia Skripal today said her strength is “growing daily” after the nerve agent attack which left her and her father in intensive care.

In her first comments since the shock chemical weapon atrocity, Russian citizen Yulia said the past month had been “somewhat disorientating”.

And British officials she had so far rejected the Kremlin’s offer of help.

The UN Security Council meeting will be streamed live here as it happens. Stay with us

a man wearing a suit and tie: Credits: PA            © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: PA  

On a day of dramatic developments, Russia’s ambassador to the UK suggested Britain could be behind “strange” Russian deaths on UK soil.

Alexander Yakovenko denied the Kremlin was behind the Salisbury chemical weapon atrocity.

Speaking at a bizarre 90-minute press conference: “We are not trolling, we are puzzled.”

Meanwhile, UK spooks are confident they have pinpointed the location of the Russian chemical weapons lab that manufactured the nerve agent used in the attack.

A Whitehall source told The Times: “We knew pretty much by the time of the first Cobra (the emergency co-ordination briefing that took place the same week) that it was overwhelmingly likely to come from Russia.”

Security Minister Ben Wallace insisted it was beyond reasonable doubt that Russia was behind the assault.

He told the BBC: “That nerve agent has been identified as being manufactured, we believe, in Russia and we believe that the Novichok type of nerve agent is only capable of being produced by a nation state – and then we add that to intelligence we hold, we add that to some of the police investigations that’s going on right now, and we can say that roads lead to Russia, that we are beyond reasonable doubt of the view that the Russian state is behind this.”

He also said that while Jeremy Corbyn had seen more intelligence “than the average backbench MP” through a Privy Council briefing, the Labour leader had been denied access to some material.

He added: “The circle of who gets to see very sensitive information is very small because if you leak it or it gets out, people’s lives are put at risk.”

Labour accused Mr Wallace of “playing party politics” by suggesting Mr Corbyn could not be trusted.

a person with the mouth open: Credits: PA             © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: PA  

“This is completely irresponsible and another attempt by the Tories to deflect criticism from Boris Johnson’s blatant attempt to mislead the public,” a spokesman said.

“Ben Wallace should be acting in the national interest, not playing party politics with the country’s security.”

While the Kremlin stepped up efforts to undermine the UK’s case, Yulia Skripal revealed she was getting better following the March 4 attack.

In a statement issued by Scotland Yard, she said: “I woke up over a week ago now and am glad to say my strength is growing daily.

“I am grateful for the interest in me and for the many messages of goodwill that I have received.

“I have many people to thank for my recovery and would especially like to mention the people of Salisbury that came to my aid when my father and I were incapacitated.

“Further than that, I would like to thank the staff at Salisbury District Hospital for their care and professionalism.

“I am sure you appreciate that the entire episode is somewhat disorientating, and I hope that you’ll respect my privacy and that of my family during the period of my convalescence.”

Moscow has offered consular assistance to Yulia.

But a Foreign Office spokesman said: “We are pleased that Yulia’s condition has improved and paid tribute to the medical staff who have been treating her and Mr Skripal since they were attacked.

“We have conveyed to Ms Skripal the Russian Embassy’s offer of consular assistance.

“Ms Skripal is now able to choose if and when to take up this offer, but to date, she has not done so.”

Russian ambassador to London, Alexander Yakovenko denied that Russia had ever produced the nerve agent used in Salisbury.

He told a press conference at its London outpost: “The whole story about Novichok started in the United States in the ‘90s.

“It is nothing to do with Russia. We never produced it, we never had Novichok.

“This is a creation of some other countries and some scientists.”

And he raised fresh fears over the deaths of a string of Russian citizens on British soil over the past decade, some of which are set to be re-investigated by police.

Highlighting the March 12 killing of Nikolay Glushkov, 68, who was found dead at his home in south-west London after “compression to the neck”, the envoy said: “If we take the last 10 years, so many Russian citizens died here in the UK under very strange circumstances.

a man smiling for the camera: Credits: AFP             © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: AFP  

“The last one was Glushkov.

“He was strangled – as it was said officially – on March 12.

“He was a Russian businessman – a Russian citizen, not a British citizen – and his case is also classified. We don’t have any access to the investigation, we don’t know anything. We want to know the truth.

“My question is ‘Why is it happening here?’.”

Earlier, Russia’s foreign minister blasted the probe into the Skripals’ poisoning – comparing it to a “fairy tale” from children’s fantasy book Alice in Wonderland.

Sergei Lavrov likened the “unsubstantiated accusations” against the Kremlin to a scene in Lewis Carroll’s classic novel.

He said: “In Carroll’s book, the Queen demands that first the accused be sentenced and then the jury will make their verdict.”

 

He added that “adult people do not believe in fairy tales.”

<span>Russian diplomat Vassily Nebenzia</span>

Mr Lavrov spoke out as US officials were pictured leaving their Moscow embassy after being booted out in the latest tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions.

The envoys and their families, along with pets, were seen boarding coaches at their compound before setting off for the airport.     (Mirror)

www.twitter.com/RNNetwork1

Continue reading

Image

BREAKING: Nerve Agent Attack: UK Experts Cannot Identify Novichok Used In Attack Came From Russia

The Skripals              © Other The Skripals
British scientists cannot prove that the novichok nerve agent used to poison ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter was made in Russia, the military laboratory which tested it has said.
Experts at the Porton Down research laboratory have been unable to establish the chemical’s country of origin, the chief executive of the Ministry of Defence facility told Sky News.

The admission comes after Russia demanded the UK present “every possible element of evidence” that it was responsible for the suspected assassination attempt that has triggered a global diplomatic row and plunged Moscow’s relationship with many western nations to lows not seen since the Cold War.

The Kremlin denies any involvement in the 4 March attack, which left Mr Skripal and his daughter Yulia fighting for life, but the British government has said there was “no other plausible explanation”.

Gary Aitkenhead, chief executive of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory near Salisbury, Wiltshire, said the nerve agent required “extremely sophisticated methods to create, something only in the capabilities of a state actor”.

But he added scientists could not say it was produced in Russia.

He said: “We were able to identify it as novichok, to identify that it was a military-grade nerve agent. “We have not identified the precise source, but we have provided the scientific info to the government who have then used a number of other sources to piece together the conclusions you have come to.”     (The Independent)

More follows…

 

www.twitter.com/RNNetwork1

Continue reading

Image

Russia To Expel 150 Western Diplomats, Closed U.S Consulate In St. Perteburg |RN

By RICHARD PÉREZ-PEÑA
 (Video provided by Wochit News)

 

LONDON — Intensifying Russia’s clash with Europe and the United States, the Kremlin on Thursday announced that it would expel 150 Western diplomats, and close the United States Consulate in St. Petersburg.

The tit-for-tat action was in retaliation for the expulsion of more than 150 Russian officials from other countries — which was itself a reaction to a nerve-agent attack on British soil that Britain and its allies have blamed on Moscow.

The United States ambassador to Russia, Jon M. Huntsman Jr., was summoned to the Kremlin, Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov announced. Sixty American diplomats will be expelled from Russia — the same as the number of Russian diplomats whom Washington has expelled.  The Americans were given until April 5 to leave the country.

a car parked in front of a building: The United States consulate in Saint Petersburg, Russia, will be closed, the Kremlin announced.© Olga Maltseva/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images The United States consulate in Saint Petersburg, Russia, will be closed, the Kremlin announced.

The crisis over the poisoning of a former Russian double agent and his daughter has driven tensions between the Kremlin and the West to their highest pitch in decades. The tit-for-tat responses raise the prospect of further, more serious escalations, either public or clandestine.

Relations were already rocky, over Moscow’s roles in the wars in Syria and Ukraine, its forcible annexation of Crimea, its meddling in elections in the United States and elsewhere, the assassination of Kremlin foes in Russia and abroad, cyber attacks and disinformation campaigns against other countries and what Western officials have described as a broad, largely covert effort to destabilize and discredit liberal democracies.

Russia as a whole, and many powerful Russians individually, are already under economic sanctions by the West, and London has vowed to tighten its scrutiny and control of the vast Russian wealth — much of it held by allies of President Vladimir V. Putin — that has flowed into Britain in recent years. Britain has also said it will re-examine several suspicious deaths of Kremlin opponents.

Mr Putin and his government have denied any involvement in the March 4 attack on Sergei V. Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, and have tried to cast blame on Britain, the United States, Ukraine, the Czech Republic and others.

The Skripals were found unconscious is a busy shopping area in the small English city of Salisbury, where Mr Skripal lives. He remains hospitalized in critical condition, but his daughter’s health has improved, British officials announced on Thursday. British officials say that hundreds of people could have been exposed to the toxin used against them.

Prime Minister Theresa May and her government contend that they were poisoned with one of an extremely powerful class of nerve agents known as “novichok,” developed by Soviet scientists in the 1970s and ’80s. They claim to have solid evidence that Russia was probably behind the attack, and that Mr Putin himself probably approved it.

The British government has not made its evidence public but has shared it with its major allies, who have said that they agree with London’s conclusions. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the international body that polices a chemical weapons ban treaty, is investigating.

President Trump, who has long been loath to criticize Mr Putin or his government, has made no public statement on the nerve-agent attack or who was to blame for it. But officials in his administration have publicly backed Ms May’s statements, and on Monday the president ordered the expulsion of 60 Russian officials who work in the United States, and the closure of the Russian consulate in Seattle.
More than 20 other countries, primarily European, also announced expulsions on Monday, and a few more joined in on Tuesday, as did NATO headquarters in Brussels. The expulsions were a remarkable show of international unity and coordination, in solidarity with Britain, which had already forced 23 Russian officials to leave the country; Moscow responded by expelling 23 Britons.

In all, 27 countries have ejected more than 150 Russians, including people listed by their embassies and consulates as diplomats, and military and cultural attaches. Western officials say that many of the Russians are actually spies and that the expulsions will hinder Russian espionage efforts.

Mr Skripal, a former colonel in Russian military intelligence, was imprisoned in Russia for selling secrets to Britain. He was sent to Britain in 2010 as part of a spy swap. Why he would be targeted years later is unclear, but political and security analysts have said that the attack served as a warning to those who would cross Mr Putin that even in exile, they are never beyond the Kremlin’s reach.

On March 12, Nikolai A. Glushkov, a former Russian business executive and critic of the government, died suddenly at his home in London, and the police are treating the case as a murder investigation.   (The New York Times)

www.twitter.com/RNNetwork1

Continue reading

Image

BREAKING: US Expels 60 Russian Diplomats, Germany, Poland Follow In Response To Spy Poisoning

U.S. President Donald Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin talk during the family photo session at the APEC Summit in Danang, Vietnam © Reuters U.S. President Donald Trump and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin talk during the family photo session at the APEC Summit in Danang, Vietnam  

Donald Trump has expelled 60 Russian diplomats from America as punishment for the Salisbury poisoning and to protect the country from spying.

Donald Tusk, president of the EU council, has announced that 14 member states have decided to expel Russian diplomats on Monday.

File photo of Sergei Skripal                  © Getty File photo of Sergei Skripal

EU leaders agreed last week it was highly likely Russia was behind the poisoning of a Russian ex-spy and his daughter in the UK.Some 48 diplomats at the Russian embassy have been asked to leave and 12 Russians who work at the United Nations. The Russian consulate in Seattle will also be closed.

File photo of Putin              © Getty File photo of Putin

Senior US administration officials said the Russians being expelled were intelligence officers who are being “cloaked” by their diplomatic status.The US officials accused Russia of a “reckless attempt” to murder British citizens on UK soil and said the attack would not go unpunished.

File photo dated 08/07/17 of Prime Minister Theresa May holding talks with US President Donald Trump on the margins of the G20 summit in Hamburg. © PA File photo dated 08/07/17 of Prime Minister Theresa May holding talks with US President Donald Trump on the margins of the G20 summit in Hamburg.

 

US officials said that the lives of “countless” innocent people including children had been put at risk by the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

They also blamed the Kremlin directly for the attack.

‘World’s patience wearing thin with Putin’

A senior US administration official said: “This was a reckless attempt by the government to murder a British citizen and his daughter on British soil with a military-grade nerve agent. It cannot go unanswered.

Prime Minister Theresa May, with Wiltshire Police Chief Constable Kier Pritchard, in Salisbury © PA Prime Minister Theresa May, with Wiltshire Police Chief Constable Kier Pritchard, in Salisbury

“The Salisbury attack was only the latest in a long series of Russian efforts to undermine international peace and stability.

“The Russian government has shown malicious contempt for the sovereignty and security of countries worldwide. It has repeatedly sought to subvert and discredit Western institutions. These efforts are ongoing.

Military personnel in College Street Car Park in Salisbury           © PA Military personnel in College Street Car Park in Salisbury

“Today we stand in solidarity with America’s closest ally, the United Kingdom. To the Russian government, we say: ‘When you attack our friends you will face serious consequences.”

The diplomats and their families have seven days to leave the country. Moscow’s ambassador to Washington warned the US was “destroying what little is left of relations with Russia”.

Barriers erected outside a Zizzi restaurant in Salisbury         © PA Barriers erected outside a Zizzi restaurant in Salisbury

A number of European states, including Germany and Poland, have announced similar moves this morning. The German foreign ministry confirmed Berlin has expelled four Russian diplomats over the Salisbury attack while Poland has said it is also expelling four of the state’s diplomats.

Russian diplomatic staff based in the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Estonia have also been asked to leave.

Personnel in hazmat suits work to secure a tent covering a bench in the Maltings shopping centre in Salisbury © PA Personnel in hazmat suits work to secure a tent covering a bench in the Maltings shopping centre in Salisbury

US officials said the 60 Russians were part more than 100 spies operating in America. They said they would make decisions in the future about what to do with those remaining.

Mr Trump has not discussed the move with Vladimir Putin, the Russian president. US officials did not rule out the possibility of new economic sanctions on Russia as punishment for Salisbury, saying instead when asked that there was nothing to announce.

The action comes after more than a fortnight of mixed messages over America’s willingness to take a tough line on Russia for the Salisbury poisoning.

The White House declined to point the finger at Russia explicitly the day Theresa May linked the Kremlin with the attack during an address in the House of Commons.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin talk during the family photo session at the APEC Summit in Danang, Vietnam

 

Mr Trump also failed to mention that attack during a phone call with Mr Putin last week and at times has not matched the critical rhetoric of cabinet colleagues and officials.Senior US administration officials pushed back on the suggestion they had been sending “mixed messages” on Monday, saying that they stood with Britain over the attack.        (The Telegraph)

www.twitter.com/RNNetwork1

Continue reading

Image

Russian Ambassador Fingers British Lab As Probable Source Of Nerve Agent That Poisoned Ex-Spy

Dan Bloom
a man wearing a suit and tie: Credits: X00380            © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: X00380  

A British lab could be the source of the deadly nerve agent that poisoned ex-spy Sergei Skripal, a top Russian diplomat has suggested.

Vladimir Chizhov, Russia’s ambassador to the EU, claimed there could be a link between the Novichok and world-class chemical weapons lab Porton Down because it is only eight miles from Salisbury.

Slamming the Tory Defence Secretary he added: “Russia is not going to shut up and will certainly not go away.”

The British government dismissed his claims as “nonsense”, saying they contain “not an ounce of truth”.

It comes as Theresa May considers sweeping new sanctions against Russian oligarchs two weeks after Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia were left in a critical condition in Salisbury.

The Prime Minister said the Russian state was behind the attack – the first use of a chemical weapon in Europe since World War 2.

She accused the regime of Vladimir Putin – who is standing for re-election today – of a “flagrant breach of international law” and said the nerve agent was of a “type developed by Russia”.

a person standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera: Credits: AFP             © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: AFP

Yet Mr Chizhov told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show Russia had “nothing to do” with the poisoning.He questioned how Britain worked out Novichok was responsible “so quickly,” claiming “it can only mean they had some standard” to compare against.

Asked how the nerve agent came to be used in Salisbury he told the BBC: “When you have a nerve agent or whatever, you check it against certain samples that you retain in your laboratories.

“And Porton Down, as we now all know, is the largest military facility in the United Kingdom that has been dealing with chemical weapons research.

“And it’s actually only eight miles from Salisbury.”

Pressed on whether he was claiming Porton Down was responsible he shrugged: “I don’t know, I don’t know… I don’t have evidence of anything being used.”

a large machine in a room: Credits: Daily Mirror           © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Daily Mirror

But he added: “There were certain specialists, including some scientists who today claim to be responsible for creating some nerve agents, that have been whisked out of Russia and are currently residing in the United Kingdom.”

The Foreign Office said there was “not an ounce of truth” in his suggestion of a link to Porton Down.

a person standing in a kitchen: Credits: Daily Mirror           © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Daily Mirror

A spokesperson told the BBC: “It’s just another futile attempt from the Russian state to divert the story away from the facts – that Russia has acted in flagrant breach of its international obligations.”Britain triggered a diplomatic stand-off this week by booting 23 Russian diplomats out of London and severing high-level ties.

Moscow hit back yesterday by expelling 23 Brits, no longer allowing the UK to open a consulate in St Petersburg and terminating the British Council’s activities in Russia.

Experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons are set to arrive in Britain tomorrow to test samples of the nerve agent, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said.

a man wearing a helmet: Credits: Daily Mirror            © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Daily Mirror

Mr Chizhov claimed Russia has never produced Novichok, saying it had “no stockpiles whatsoever” of any nerve agent and “Russia has stopped production of any chemical agents back in 1992”.

The ambassador said Skripal was a “traitor” but claimed he is now “almost forgotten” and was “officially pardoned by a Presidential decree”.

He condemned Britain for “flatly refusing” Moscow access to the nerve agent, which he said breached international protocol.

Credits: PA           © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: PA

Mrs May, set to chair a National Security Council meeting on Tuesday, told Tory activists on Saturday: “We will consider our next steps in the coming days.”

Those reportedly include emergency laws to make it easier to seize money laundered through Britain by Russian residents; a stronger visa regime to stop Vladimir Putin’s cronies travelling to London, and forcing Russian oligarchs in the UK to account for “unexplained” wealth.

Banks, energy firms and water companies are reportedly on “maximum alert” to the threat of a cyber-attack.

a man wearing a suit and tie: Credits: AFP            © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: AFP

Boris Johnson will seek to rally the support of the other 27 EU foreign ministers at a regular summit tomorrow.

The poisoning is not on the official agenda of the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels, but ministers will discuss Russia’s annexation of Crimea and Mr Johnson will have a chance to meet them on the sidelines.

Today Mr Johnson hit back at Russia’s counter-measures as “futile”, saying “resisting a bully is always risky” but it is the right thing to do.

Meanwhile, Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson said Britain should “pull the plug” on state-funded, UK-based TV channel Russia Today.

She said the channel spouts “absurd conspiracies” and “poisons our public discourse”, adding: “Russia is industrialising false information: less an iron curtain these days than a web of lies”.   (Mirror)

www.twitter.com/RNNetwork1

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: