‘World’s patience wearing thin with Putin’

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Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to divide Britain from its allies, according to Britain’s defence secretary.

Gavin Williamson, who is in Tallinn, Estonia, said the world’s patience was wearing thin with Mr Putin and his actions.

He said the world was united behind the British, in a “powerful message to the Kremlin”.

The Russian government hit back, saying Britain’s accusations over the nerve agent attack on a former spy in Salisbury “border on banditry”.

Mr Williamson said the universal backing for Britain was in “itself a defeat for President Putin”.

“The world’s patience is rather wearing thin with President Putin and his actions, and the fact that right across the NATO alliance, right across the European Union, nations have stood up in support of the United Kingdom… I actually think that is the very best response that we could have,” he said.

“Their (the Kremlin’s) intention, their aim is to divide and what we are seeing is the world uniting behind the British stance and that in itself is a great victory and sends an exceptionally powerful message to the Kremlin and President Putin.”

:: ‘Russia’s novichok programme exists, I worked on it’

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson talking to British troops in Estonia. Pic: The Royal Welsh
Image: Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson talking to British troops in Estonia. Pic: The Royal Welsh

Mr Williamson arrived in the Estonian capital on Sunday for a two-day visit to see British troops who are based there as part of a NATO mission in the Baltic states to deter Russian aggression.

He addressed the troops with his Estonian counterpart, Juri Luik, who said Estonia was prepared to stand by the UK just as the UK had stood by his country.

His attack on Russia came as Poland, Latvia and Lithuania summoned their Russian ambassadors over the spy poisoning.

Latvia had said it would expel “one or several” Russian diplomats, with Lithuania and Poland expected to do the same.

Poland’s counterintelligence agency, ABW, revealed on Monday it detained a Polish official on Friday called Marek W, over suspicions he collaborated with Russian intelligence services, sending them information about investments integral to Poland.

Mr Williamson has been vociferous in speaking about Russian involvement in the attack on double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia on 4 March.

Gavin Williamson
Image: Gavin Williamson told Russia to ‘go away and shut up’

Earlier this month he said Russia should “go away and shut up” when asked how the Kremlin should respond to 23 of its diplomats, thought to be spies, being expelled from the UK over the poisoning.

He said: “What we will do is we will look at how Russia responds to what we have done. It is absolutely atrocious and outrageous what Russia did in Salisbury. We have responded to that.

“Frankly, Russia should go away and should shut up.”

He accused Russia of “ripping up the international rulebook” to subvert other countries as it continues to increase military expenditure despite its flailing economy.

The police officer who was also in hospital with the Skripals after being affected by the nerve agent was discharged on Sunday.

On the same day the EU’s diplomatic chief, Federica Mogherini, held crisis talks with the bloc’s Moscow ambassador, Markus Ederer, after he was recalled to Brussels over the Skripals’ poisoning.

Before the weekend the EU’s 27 leaders unanimously backed the UK’s assessment that the Kremlin was to blame for the Wiltshire attack.

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Last week, chemical weapons inspectors arrived in Salisbury to inspect the scene where the Skripals were found slumped on a bench, as well as all the places they had recently visited.

The inspectors were given permission by a London court for blood samples to be taken from the Russian father and daughter so they could confirm the conclusion which the Porton Down military research laboratory came to; that a Soviet-era nerve agent called novichok was used.

From – SkyNews

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