As Foreign Minister Boris Johnson meets with his counterparts from European Union countries in Brussels today to update them on the Salisbury spy attack before meeting Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg, it is vital that Britain is not left to stand alone in a rapidly-escalating crisis with Russia.
Independent inspectors are due to test the nerve agent used in the attack and while the results will take at least two weeks, the evidence of Russia’s involvement is mounting all the time.
Mr Johnson disclosed that in the last decade, Russia has not only been investigating the delivery of nerve agents for the purposes of assassination, but has also been creating and stockpiling Novichok, the substance used to attack former double agent Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33. Despite Jeremy Corbyn’s prevarication last week, Russia’s involvement now also appears to be accepted by Labour, with shadow chancellor John McDonnell stating it is “highly likely” to have been a state execution attempt and adding “all the evidence” points to Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Following Moscow’s tit-for-tat response to the UK’s expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats and threats of “further retaliatory measures” should Britain take additional action, it is clear there needs to be a united international front in dealing with this matter.
This issue goes far beyond the barbs that the Government and EU leaders have exchanged over Brexit. Other nations must realise the appallingly dangerous precedent that would be set by allowing such a chemical weapons attack in an ally’s country to be conducted with impunity.