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Asean & Global Updates
POSTED | 15:29 PM | 13-03-2018

May gives Putin deadline

British Prime Minister Theresa May has cleared the way for a cyber attack on Russia as she challenged Russian President Vladimir Putin to explain how a powerful Russian nerve agent came to be used in an assassination attempt on British soil, The Times of London reported on Tuesday (March 13, 2018).

The prime minister told MPs on Monday that the double agent Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter, Yulia, 33, were attacked in Salisbury last week with novichok, a chemical weapon up to eight times more powerful than the notorious VX nerve agent. It has never knowingly been deployed before, experts say.

Russia had carried out a “direct attack on our country” or had “lost control of this potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent,” Mrs May said. She set a deadline of midnight on Tuesday for Russia to account for its actions, adding: “Should there be no credible response, we will conclude that this action amounts to an unlawful use of force by the Russian state against the United Kingdom.”

That would enable Britain to invoke Article 51 of the United Nations charter that allows for legitimate self-defence, potentially providing the legal basis for an offensive against Russia, lawyers said. Mrs May warned that she was ready to take “much more extensive measures” against Russia than after incidents including the murder of Alexander Litvenenko in 2006.

As Britain sought to build an international alliance in support of its response, the US offered full-throated support. Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state, said that the attack “clearly came from Russia” and “certainly will trigger a response.” He described the poisoning as “a really egregious act” and said it was “almost beyond comprehension” that a state actor would use such a dangerous substance in a public place.

He added that he did not know whether the Russian government had knowledge of the poisoning but said that the toxin was “only in the hands of a very, very limited number of parties.”

Donald Trump’s press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, had said earlier: “The attack was reckless, indiscriminate and irresponsible…We stand by our closest ally and the special relationship we have.”

The EU has made no commitment to join any British action but said it was “very concerned” by the poisoning. “The UK can count on EU solidarity in this regard,” said Valdis Dombrovskis, a vice-president of the European Commission.


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