Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

We Must Stand against Russia

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

We Must Stand against Russia

Article excerpt

We have a tradition in Britain that any town with a cathedral becomes a city. Salisbury won that title nearly 800 years ago, thanks to the magnificent cathedral that still dominates its streets.

So you can imagine Britain's sense of revulsion -indeed of violation -over the fact that a tranquil medieval city has witnessed the first offensive use of a nerve agent in Europe since World War II.

As I write, the principal target, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter, Yulia, are both in critical condition. A police officer who went to their aid is also in the hospital. About three dozen others required medical treatment simply because they were nearby when the substance was released.

It was only down to chance that more people are not lying stricken today; the perpetrators clearly did not care how many innocents were endangered. What sticks in my mind is the cavalier indifference -and sheer brazenness -of this attack.

Our experts have identified the weapon used in Salisbury on March 4 as a fourth-generation nerve agent known as Novichok, designed to play havoc with the central nervous system and inflict a lingering death.

Russian scientists developed Novichok starting in the 1970s. Today, only Russia combines a record of state-sponsored assassinations with a publicly avowed motive for trying to kill Sergei Skripal and stockpiles of Novichok agents.

On Monday, I summoned the Russian ambassador and gave his government 36 hours to inform us if any of these stocks had gone missing.

I regret to say that the deadline passed without a response from the Kremlin. The British government has drawn the only plausible conclusion: that the Russian state attempted murder in a British city, employing a lethal nerve agent banned under the Chemical Weapons Convention.

On Wednesday, Theresa May, the prime minister, announced the biggest expulsion of Russian diplomats for more than 30 years, evicting 23 undeclared intelligence officers. The government will now take a range of measures to protect Britain from hostile states and dismantle the Russian espionage network in our country.

But this matter goes far beyond a bilateral dispute. …

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