Emmanuel Macron to announce measures against Russia in response to nerve agent attack on former spy

France had been slow to come around to the UK's position

Jon Stone
Europe Correspondent
Thursday 15 March 2018 11:47 GMT
Salisbury attack: Timeline of events

Emmanuel Macron has said he will unveil measures against Russia in response to the poisoning of the former spy Sergei Skripal on British soil in the coming days.

The French president spoke with Theresa May on the phone on Thursday morning about “progress of the investigation” in the nerve agent attack, which the British Government says was carried out by Russia.

The apparent about-face comes after a muted response from France, with one spokesperson having said yesterday the country would wait until the “elements are proven” instead of relying on “fantasy politics”.

But in a statement issued on Thursday morning, a spokesperson for Mr Macron said: “Since the beginning of the week, the United Kingdom has kept France closely informed of the evidence gathered by British investigators and evidence of Russia’s responsibility in the attack.

“France agrees with the United Kingdom that there is no other plausible explanation and reiterates its solidarity with its ally.”

Speaking separately to reporters in western France, Mr Macron himself added, according to the Reuters news agency: “Everything leads us to believe that responsibility is in fact attributable to Russia,” Macron told reporters in western France.

“I will announce in the coming days the measures that we intend to take.”

A Downing Street spokesperson said: “President Macron said that France completely shares the UK’s assessment that there is no plausible explanation other than that Russia was responsible for the attack and he once again expressed his full support for the UK as a close and strong ally.

“The Prime Minister and the President reiterated their condemnation of the use of all chemical weapons and said they would continue to cooperate closely in this area.

“The Prime Minister thanked the President for his ongoing support, including at Nato, the United Nations Security Council and in the OPCW, and they agreed to remain in close contact as the situation developed and in the run up to the March European Council meeting where this would be discussed.”

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