The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Didier Reynders, indicated on Monday that the European Union must place pressure upon Russia. This is to encourage it to play an active role in the investigation into the poisoning of the former Russian spy, Sergueï Skripal, in Salisbury, in the UK.
Foreign ministers are meeting to discuss the matter on Monday in Brussels.
The minister added, “We must demonstrate our solidarity with Great Britain, in the hope that the Russian President commits in a tangible and transparent way to participating in the investigation into the events in Salisbury.” He went on, “It is a serious issue when we see chemical weapons being used, as happened during this horrendous incident.”
Two weeks after the poisoning of Skripal and his daughter, experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (“OPCW”) went to the UK on Monday to examine samples of the nerve gas. The British government, which has taken the decision to expel 23 Russian diplomats, is convinced that Russia is responsible for the incident.
Moreover the British Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, added that the denials by Moscow are “increasingly absurd.” Upon arrival in Brussels, he said, “Firstly they claim that they have never manufactured “Novitchok”, next that all of the supplies have been destroyed, and then that certain quantities of it have mysteriously disappeared in Sweden, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, the United States and even the UK.”
Boris Johnson also said that he was pleased with the European solidarity. “Almost all of the European countries present have been confronted, in recent years, with malicious and unsettling behaviour by Russia in some form or another.”
His German colleague, Heiko Maas, stressed that Europeans should now pursue a dialogue with Vladimir Putin, who was re-elected as President on Sunday. Maas stated, “It is true that Russia remains a difficult partner, but it also has a necessary role in resolving major international conflicts.”
Today the foreign ministers will also, in particular, turn their attention to the situation in Syria, the peace process in the Korean Peninsula and relations with Iran.