UK rejects joint probe with Russia into spy poisoning
Moscow – The international chemical weapons watchdog on Wednesday rejected Russia’s call for a joint investigation with Britain of the nerve-agent poisonings of an ex-spy and his daughter in England.
But Russia said the number of countries that abstained from the vote suggested many have doubts about Britain’s allegations that Moscow was behind the attack and now plans to take its denials of involvement to the U.N. Security Council.
Britain said Russia’s proposal for a joint investigation received only six votes at a special session of the executive council of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The council has representatives from 41 countries.
Russia requested the session in The Hague, Netherlands, to push its repeated rejection of Britain’s claim that Moscow orchestrated the poisonings of Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia. The British government has invited experts from OPCW to help identify the substance that sickened the Skripals on March 4.
“The purpose of Russia’s ludicrous proposal at The Hague was clear – to undermine the independent, impartial work of the international chemical weapons watchdog,” British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said in a statement.
Russia’s OPCW envoy Alexander Shulgin said the 17 abstentions from Wednesday’s vote meant “more than half of the members of the executive council refused to support the U.S. and U.K. position.”
The United States and more than two dozen British allies have expelled more than 150 Russian diplomats in a show of solidarity over the attack. Moscow has responded in kind.
Russia’s U.N. ambassador called for an open meeting Thursday of the U.N. Security Council about the case. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia made the request at the end of his speech Wednesday to a council meeting on chemical weapons in Syria.
Russia requested the Security Council meeting because it shares the principle that the use of chemical weapons “is not acceptable and must be investigated and perpetrators punished,” Nebenzia said.
Kuwait’s U.N. ambassador, Mansour Al-Otaibi, told reporters the meeting is scheduled at 3 p.m. Thursday.
At the special meeting in The Hague, Russia and Britain traded accusations of duplicity and untrustworthiness.
The British envoy said that a joint investigation, as proposed by Russia, would force “a victim to engage the likely perpetrator.”
“To do so would be perverse,” acting U.K. Permanent Representative John Foggo said, adding that Moscow’s demand showed “disdain.”
But Russia complained that Britain’s work with the agency has lacked transparency.
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