Boris Johnson heads to Brussels to drum up support against Russia

Boris Johnson heads to Brussels to drum up support against Russia

European foreign will discuss a coordinated response to a nerve agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal.

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Photo: AP

European foreign ministers will gather in Brussels today to discuss a coordinated response to a nerve agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal.

The attack, which Britain’s foreign minister Boris Johnson says is “overwhelmingly likely” to have been ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin, has seen relations sink to their lowest level since the Cold War. Over the weekend, the Russian foreign ministry announced it would expel 23 British diplomats from Moscow in response to London’s decision to expel 23 Russian diplomats.

Mr Johnson will today make an appeal for support from his EU counterparts. While Brussels currently imposes sanctions on Russia over the occupation of Crimea, it will find it difficult to build consensus to tighten these measures. Many EU members, particularly Hungary, Greece and Italy, oppose sanctioning Russia.

Instead, the EU is likely to release a strongly worded statement supporting the UK’s assessment that Russia’s government is responsible—a similar statement has already been issued by France, Germany and the US.

Meanwhile, investigators from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons will arrive in Britain today to formally determine the substance used, although won’t attribute blame for its use.

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