‘More countries to expel Russian diplomats’

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Theresa May has shared new information on the Salisbury nerve agent attack with her fellow European leaders, according to the Lithuanian President.

Dalia Grybauskaite told Sky News that Mrs May shared “more detailed information” at a dinner in Brussels last night.

“I think discussion was very deep – quite interesting and important,” she said.

“We got more detailed information from the Prime Minister May and it was very good information. I mean, trustable.”

Mrs May’s spokesman confirmed Mrs May has been sharing intelligence on the attack with her EU counterparts.

Asked whether she felt she had learnt more at the meeting than she knew before in relation to the Salisbury attack, President Grybauskaite said: “Of course, of course, and this came from the first lips.

“And it is important which information influenced our decision, which was unanimously to upgrade to the text and to use the intelligence service formulation about the threats and relations from Russia.

“This allowed us to be very much united.”

:: EU withdraws ambassador to Russia

President Grybauskaite also confirmed reports a number of EU countries are preparing specific measures against Russia.

“The united response was yesterday and from the beginning of next week, a lot of countries will go for national measures,” she said.

It is understood that countries including France, Estonia, Poland and Lithuania are preparing to expel Russian diplomats or spies posing as diplomats from their countries.

The UK has been pushing the EU for a united message against Russia, underlining not only solidarity but a collective assessment that Russia was highly likely to have carried out the Salisbury attack.

Theresa May, Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel
Image: Theresa May, Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel

Last night the leaders issued a joint statement in which they underlined the fact that they shared the view that Russia was highly likely to be responsible for the attack on the Skripals and that there was not other plausible explanation.

The statement read: “(The European Council) agrees with the United Kingdom government’s assessment that it is highly likely that the Russian Federation is responsible and that there is no plausible alternative explanation.

“We stand in unqualified solidarity with the United Kingdom in the face of this grave challenge to our shared security.”

“The use of chemical weapons, including the use of any toxic chemicals as weapons under any circumstances, is completely unacceptable, must be systematically and rigorously condemned and constitutes a security threat to us all.

“Member States will coordinate on the consequences to be drawn in the light of the answers provided by the Russian authorities. The European Union will remain closely focused on this issue and its implications.”

A bus carrying embassy staff and children leaves Russia's Embassy in London
Image: Russian diplomats were kicked out of Britain on Wednesday

Speaking on his arrival at day two of the summit, the Irish Prime Minister said his country would be carrying out a security assessment of Russian diplomats in Dublin ahead of the possible expulsion of Russian spies posing as diplomats.

Before Thursday’s dinner, Mrs May held talks with the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the French president, Emmanuel Macron.

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According to a No 10 spokesman: “The UK, Germany and France reaffirmed that there is no plausible explanation other than that the Russian state was responsible. The leaders agreed on the importance of sending a strong European message in response to Russia’s actions and agreed to remain in close contact in coming days.”

The UK has already expelled 23 Russian diplomats in retaliation to the Salisbury attack. On Wednesday the UK National Security Advisor Mark Sedwill travelled to Brussels to brief EU counterparts on the continuing investigation into the Salisbury attack.

From – SkyNews

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