Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy in the UK ‘clearly came from Russia’ and has vowed to respond, hours after the White House refused to blame Moscow.
In a strongly-worded statement, he slammed Moscow as a ‘irresponsible force of instability in the world’ and gave the British government his backing.
‘We have full confidence in the UK’s investigation and its assessment that Russia was likely responsible for the nerve agent attack that took place in Salisbury last week,’ he said.
‘There is never a justification for this type of attack, the attempted murder of a private citizen on the soil of a sovereign nation, and we are outraged that Russia appears to have again engaged in such behavior.
‘Russia continues to be an irresponsible force of instability in the world, acting with open disregard for the sovereignty of other states and the life of their citizens.’
He added that those responsible ‘must face appropriately serious consequences’.
Tillerson made the remarks during his trip to Africa just hours after the The White House broke a week-long silence to condemn the chemical attack, but refused to even mention Moscow.
Prime Minister Theresa May told the Commons on Monday that analysis of the nerve agent used in the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury shows that it was from a group known as novichok.
Following a meeting of the Government’s National Security Council, Mrs May told MPs: ‘It is now clear that Mr Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia.’
But after being pressed by reporters, Donald Trump‘s press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders repeatedly refused to be drawn on Russian involvement.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the poisoning of an ex-spy in the UK ‘cleary came from Russia’ and has vowed to respond. He is seen speaking during a press conference in Abuja, Nigeria, on Monday
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders walks off of the stage at the end of the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Monday, March 12, 2018. She refused to say Russia was behind the attack in Salisbury
Sanders described the attack ‘an outrage’, and said: ‘The use of a highly lethal nerve agent against UK citizens on UK soil is an outrage.
‘The attack was reckless, indiscriminate and irresponsible.’
Sanders stopped short of pointing the finger of blame at Moscow, as Theresa May did earlier in parliament.
When asked by a reporter, ‘So, you’re not saying Russia was behind this?’, Trump’s spokeswoman said: ‘Right not we’re standing with our UK allies.’
Prime Minister Theresa May told the Commons this afternoon that analysis of the nerve agent used in the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury shows that it was from a group known as novichok
Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia (pictured in Zizzi in 2016) left a trail of nerve agent in the restaurant after their poisoning
Brian Klass, a fellow at the The Department of Government at the London School of Economics and Political Science, slammed the White House for its soft stance.
He said Trump had criticised Meryl Streep more than Putin during his Presidency.
Mr Klass said: ‘Trump has praised Putin repeatedly.
‘On the other hand, he attacked the Mayor of London in the aftermath of a terror attack, retweeted British neo-fascists who a