UK calls on EU to aim sanctions at Moscow

2018-08-22 08:46:18China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

Britain's foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, wants the European Union to follow the United States' lead and impose sanctions upon Russia as punishment for a chemical attack that was allegedly carried out by Russia on British soil earlier this year, a claim that Moscow has consistently denied.

Hunt, who recently succeeded Boris Johnson at the helm of the United Kingdom's Foreign Office, made the call on Tuesday during his first official visit to the U.S..

"That means calling out and responding to transgressions with one voice, whenever they occur, from the streets of Salisbury to the fate of Crimea," the BBC reported him as saying. "Those who do not share our values need to know that there will always be a serious price to pay if red lines are crossed — whether territorial incursions, the use of banned weapons or, increasingly, cyber-attacks."

The broadcaster predicted, however, that Hunt's call would fall on deaf ears in Brussels, where EU politicians have shown a reluctance to go head-to-head with Moscow.

Hunt made the speech in Washington, at the U.S. Institute of Peace, where he warned about multiple threats to the world's economy, international security, and order.

He also noted that the historically "rock-solid" transatlantic alliance, involving Europe and the U.S., would be undermined if the partners fail to show their opponents a united front.

The UK blames Russia for a chemical attack in the small Wiltshire city of Salisbury in March, during which the former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were poisoned with novichok nerve agent. Sergei had been a double agent on behalf of the UK's intelligence services during the 1990s and early 2000s and arrived in the UK in 2010 after a prisoner swap.

The Skripals recovered after the attack, which Britain described as an assassination attempt.

Another two people were sickened several weeks later, in nearby Amesbury, after apparently handling a discarded container used to carry the nerve agent. One of those people later died.

Britain expelled 23 Russian diplomats in response to the poisoning and several other EU nations followed suit with Russia calling for full cooperation from the British and consular access to the Skripals. But Hunt calls for more punishment and says sanctions already announced by the U.S. and additional action from the EU would punish Russia's "malign" behavior and make it aware of the serious price it must pay for repeatedly violating international rules of conduct.

The Independent newspaper said he wants Britain's allies to speak with "one voice" against Moscow.

In addition to his criticism of Russia in relation to the Wiltshire poisonings and its annexation of Crimea, Hunt attacked Moscow for supporting the Assad regime in Syria.

But the United Kingdom's opposition Labour Party has warned new sanctions are only likely to ramp up tension internationally.

Hunt's three-day trip to the U.S. will include an opportunity to address the United Nations Security Council, where he will speak about the international fight against Islamic State and other Islamist terror groups.

Reuters says U.S. President Donald Trump has said he has no intention of lifting sanctions against Russia.

"I'm not considering it at all, no," he told the agency. "I would consider it if they do something that would be good for us. But I wouldn't consider it without that."

Trump's relationship with Russia has been complex since he took office last year. Arguments about the funding of NATO have seen him distance himself from traditional allies in Europe while apparently moving closer to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov responded to Hunt's speech by saying Britain was trying to impose its Russia policy on the EU and U.S., the RIA News Agency reported.

Reuters added that EU officials had noted Britain had not yet proposed any new sanctions to the other 27 EU member states.


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