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Estonian PM considers discussion of new steps against Russia possible at European Council

  • 2018-03-23
  • LETA/TBT Staff

TALLINN - Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas arriving at the European Council in Brussels on Thursday said that leaders of the European Union at their meeting may also discuss new sanctions against Russia in relation to the poisoning carried out in the United Kingdom.

"I believe that these debates may be on the table today," Ratas said when responding to a question of the Estonian public broadcaster ERR. "I sincerely hope that the European Council today will adopt a joint and strong position on this issue," the prime minister said.

"We fully condemn the poisoning attack. We trust our partners, we trust the information that the United Kingdom gives us," Ratas said.

Ratas recalled that he has decided to call off a visit to Russia that was planned in framework of the celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia.

European Council President Donald Tusk in his invitation to the government leaders said that following the Salisbury attack, the European Union should not only express full solidarity with the United Kingdom but also draw "operational conclusions."

"I therefore propose we strengthen our resilience to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear-related risks, including through closer cooperation among the EU institutions, our member states and NATO. We should also continue to bolster our capabilities to address hybrid threats, including in the areas of cyber, strategic communication and counter-intelligence,"  Tusk said.

Former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Julia were poisoned with a nerve agent on Mar. 4 in Salisbury, United Kingdom. Sergei holds a British citizenship and Julia is a Russian citizen, both are still in hospital in critical condition.

According to the British government, all signs refer to Moscow's involvement in the poisoning and the Russian government has refused to clarify how the use of Novichok, a nerve agent developed for military purposes in the Soviet Union, was possible in the United Kingdom. The British government said that Russia had the ability, motive and will to commit the attack.

British Prime Minister Theresa May appealing to the solidarity of the European Union allies after the Salisbury attack in Brussels on Thursday said that the "Russian threat does not respect borders".

"It is clear that the Russian threat does not respect borders and indeed the incident in Salisbury was part of a pattern of Russian aggression against Europe and its near neighbors," May said in her doorstep statement to the journalists.

The United Kingdom following the attack expelled 23 Russian diplomats and their family members -- altogether approximately 80 people from the country and suspended high-level contacts with Moscow.