Jeremy Hunt Calls on Russia to Co-operate on MH17

Jeremy Hunt
Jeremy Hunt

Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, has called on Russia to co-operate with an investigation into those responsible for bringing down aircraft MH17 on 17 July 2014. Hunt’s call came after a report released by the MH17 Joint Investigation Team and the Dutch National Prosecutor, who confirmed that four people will be charged for the crime.

Hunt said in a statement:

“The shooting down of MH17 nearly 5 years ago and the tragic deaths of the 298 people on board, including 10 British people, was a horrific crime. The family and friends of those who died deserve justice. Today marks a significant step towards ensuring that those responsible are held accountable.

The UK offers its support to the prosecution process and has complete confidence in both the Joint Investigation Team and the Dutch criminal justice system. I thank the Joint Investigation Team for their painstaking work to deliver justice for all the victims from 17 different countries who lost their lives that day.

The Russian Federation must now cooperate fully with the prosecution and provide any assistance it requests in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 2166. The charges brought against these individuals today show that the international community stands together against the impunity of those responsible for the despicable murder of 298 innocent people.”

Foreign Secretary Welcomes Action Against Russia

Jeremy Hunt

Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, has said that the British Government welcomes moves by the European Union, Australia, Canada and the United States against Russian aggression in Ukraine. There will also be EU sanctions imposed against a number of Russian individuals in an attempt to put pressure on Vladimir Putin, the Russian President.

Hunt said in a statement:

“Today, the UK and our international partners in the EU, Australia, Canada and the US have sent an unequivocal message to Russia that their attack on Ukrainian vessels in the Kerch Strait and Black Sea last year was absolutely unacceptable. These sanctions are another example of the international community standing up to Russia as it persistently violates international law. We will continue to take necessary action together in response to Russia’s efforts to destabilise Ukraine.

Russia must immediately release the 24 detained servicemen and return the seized vessels. We remain deeply concerned for the safety and welfare of the servicemen who are unjustly held in Russian custody. Russia must allow free and unhindered passage of Ukrainian and international ships through the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov. We, with our international partners, stand with Ukraine in opposing Russia’s ongoing efforts to undermine Ukrainian security, sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Prime Minister Talks to Malcolm Turnbull, Australian Premier, On Salisbury Attack

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has spoken to Malcolm Turnbull, the Prime Minister of Australia, by phone over the Salisbury attack, which has been attributed to the Russians. The Australian Premier gave his support to the UK and also condemned the attack which had taken place.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said:

“The Prime Minister spoke to the Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull, this morning about the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter and the reckless endangerment of the British public through the use of a military grade nerve agent developed by Russia.

Prime Minister Turnbull said he joined the Prime Minister in her condemnation of the appalling act and expressed his complete solidarity with the UK and its response to the attack.

The Prime Minister explained how she had visited the site at Salisbury yesterday and reiterated how the act represented an unlawful use of force by the Russian state against the UK.

On the UK’s response, she explained how it will expel 23 Russian diplomats who have been identified as undeclared Russian intelligence officers, develop new legislative powers to harden our defences against such hostile activity and suspend all planned high-level contacts between the UK and the Russian Federation.

She thanked Prime Minister Turnbull for his strong support and they agreed on the importance of the international community coming together to take a stand against this despicable act”.

France, Germany, United States and UK Issue Joint Statement on Russian Attack

The Governments of France, Germany, the United States and the UK have issued a joint statement following the attack in Salisbury which has been attributed to the Russians.

The text of the statement reads:

“We, the leaders of France, Germany, the United States and the United Kingdom, abhor the attack that took place against Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury, UK, on 4 March 2018. A British police officer who was also exposed in the attack remains seriously ill, and the lives of many innocent British citizens have been threatened. We express our sympathies to them all, and our admiration for the UK police and emergency services for their courageous response.

This use of a military-grade nerve agent, of a type developed by Russia, constitutes the first offensive use of a nerve agent in Europe since the Second World War. It is an assault on UK sovereignty and any such use by a State party is a clear violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and a breach of international law. It threatens the security of us all.

The United Kingdom briefed thoroughly its allies that it was highly likely that Russia was responsible for the attack. We share the UK assessment that there is no plausible alternative explanation, and note that Russia´s failure to address the legitimate request by the UK government further underlines its responsibility. We call on Russia to address all questions related to the attack in Salisbury. Russia should in particular provide full and complete disclosure of the Novichok programme to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

Our concerns are also heightened against the background of a pattern of earlier irresponsible Russian behaviour. We call on Russia to live up to its responsibilities as a member of the UN Security Council to uphold international peace and security”.

Angela Merkel and Donald Trump Back UK Following Salisbury Attack

Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, and Donald Trump, the President of the United States, have issued their support to the British Government during phone calls made to Theresa May, the Prime Minister.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said about Merkel:

“The Prime Minister spoke to Chancellor Merkel earlier this afternoon to update her on the ongoing investigation into the Salisbury incident.

The Prime Minister set out the conclusion reached by the UK Government that it was highly likely that Russia was responsible for the attack against Sergei and Yulia Skripal. They discussed the pattern of aggressive Russian behaviour and agreed it would be important to act in unison with allies to counter it.

Chancellor Merkel condemned the attack and said she stood in full solidarity with the UK. They agreed that the international community should coordinate closely as the investigation developed and in the wake of Russia’s response”.

On the Trump call, the spokesperson said:

“The Prime Minister spoke to President Trump earlier this afternoon to update him on the ongoing investigation into the Salisbury incident. The Prime Minister set out the conclusion reached by the UK Government that it was highly likely that Russia was responsible for the attack against Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

President Trump said the US was with the UK all the way, agreeing that the Russian Government must provide unambiguous answers as to how this nerve agent came to be used”.

Boris Johnson Calls for United Global Response to Salisbury Attack

Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, has called for a global response following the Salisbury attack, which the Government has attributed to the Russians.

Johnson said in a statement:

“While we await an explanation from Russia of how a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia came to be used in the UK, the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has today been calling his counterparts and leaders of international organisations to set out what we know and our concerns that, if as we suspect is highly likely the Russian state was responsible, this would be further reckless behaviour which threatens the international community and requires an international response.

The Foreign Secretary has emphasised that if this was a direct act by the Russian state then it would not simply be a threat to the UK, but a clear violation of the chemical weapons convention, a breach of international law and a threat to those who abide by the rules-based international order as a whole.

The French Foreign Minister Le Drian offered France’s total solidarity for an unacceptable act, and noted that President Macron had promised to stand by the UK as it prepares to take concrete measures against Russia’s breach of international order. The French government stressed particular concerns about Russia’s use of chemical weapons elsewhere, as is evident with their support to Asad’s murderous regime in Syria.

In speaking to the German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, the Foreign Secretary emphasised how countering Russian disinformation, halting Russia’s adventurism in the western Balkans and reducing Russia’s ongoing involvement in Ukraine’s humanitarian crisis were issues of paramount importance to Germany and the UK alike.

Speaking to the NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, the Foreign Secretary reiterated the importance of NATO standing together to counter the threat Russia poses not just to the UK, but to our NATO allies also. He was pleased that the NATO Secretary General expressed his support and solidarity, and agreed that NATO unity was paramount, as it was to counter other existing threats to NATO partners, including in eastern Europe where UK troops are stationed alongside troops from various Allies. They both agreed that Russian actions repeatedly threaten the security of NATO partners – from the Baltics, Balkans, Ukraine and Georgia – and NATO must stand as an alliance to call out Putin’s behaviour. The UK will brief the North Atlantic Council at tomorrow’s session”.

Prime Minister Speaks to President Macron of France over Salisbury Incident

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has spoken to President Macron of France following the attack in Salisbury which is now being attributed to the Russians. The President joined in the condemnation of the attack and issued his support for the British Government on the matter.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said:

“The Prime Minister spoke to President Macron of France to update him on the latest situation regarding the incident in Salisbury on 4 March. She outlined the conclusion reached by the Government that it was highly likely that Russia was responsible for the act against Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

They discussed the wide pattern of aggressive Russian behaviour and agreed that it would be important to continue to act in concert with allies to address it. President Macron condemned the attack and offered his solidarity with the UK. They agreed that the French and British governments should coordinate closely as the investigation developed and following Russia’s response”.

Foreign Secretary Criticises Recent Russian Involvement in Syria

Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, has criticised recent Russian involvement in Syria and called on them to fully implement UN Security Council Resolution 2401.

In a statement he said:

“I am deeply concerned by the continued military campaign against the civilians of Eastern Ghouta and credible reports that Russian aircraft are actively participating alongside the Asad regime, contrary to the Security Council’s demand in UNSCR 2401 for a 30-day ceasefire in Syria. The areas suffering from bombardments are civilian populated areas.

There are reports of a death toll of more than 600 civilians in the last two weeks, including 200 airstrikes and over 100 killed since Russia voted in favour of the ceasefire. All this in an area that, lest we forget, Russia itself announced as a de-escalation zone through the Astana Process.

The main Opposition armed groups on the ground are involved in the UN-led Geneva process and Russia’s own Astana process and have clearly committed to full implementation of the UNSCR. These groups are not terrorists – they support a negotiated political solution to the crisis in Syria. Having voted for UNSCR 2401 less than a week ago, Russia has a responsibility to ensure implementation of the ceasefire.

The people of Eastern Ghouta have endured enough, among broken promises of ceasefires and humanitarian pauses. We demand that Russia and the regime cease hostilities immediately and ensure the sustained delivery of humanitarian aid to Eastern Ghouta and medical evacuations, as called for by the UN Human Rights Council this morning in a UK-proposed Resolution. The people of Eastern Ghouta can wait no longer”.

Theresa May Speaks to Donald Trump about UK Concerns over Trade War

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has spoken to Donald Trump, the US President, about growing concerns that a global trade war may erupt. It comes after Trump said that substantial tariffs would be imposed on a number of sectors, including on steel and aluminium.

The two leaders also discussed the situation in Syria, with the Prime Minister’s spokesperson saying:

“The Prime Minister had a telephone call with President Trump earlier today. They discussed Syria, and the appalling humanitarian situation in Eastern Ghouta. They agreed it was a humanitarian catastrophe, and that the overwhelming responsibility for the heart-breaking human suffering lay with the Syrian regime and Russia, as the regime’s main backer. They agreed that Russia and others with influence over the Syrian regime must act now to cease their campaign of violence and to protect civilians.

The Prime Minister raised our deep concern at the President’s forthcoming announcement on steel and aluminium tariffs, noting that multilateral action was the only way to resolve the problem of global overcapacity in all parties’ interests”.

Foreign Secretary to Visit Moscow

Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, is to visit Moscow for talks with his counterpart Sergei Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Secretary. The two are expected to discuss Iran, North Korea, Syria and other matters of international security.

Johnson said in a statement:

“Russia is a fellow permanent member of the UN Security Council and there are global security issues we need to discuss from Iran to North Korea. Of course we will continue to challenge Russia’s approach where we disagree, whether that is Russia’s actions in Syria or its aggression towards Ukraine. My visit will provide an opportunity to talk about these issues and more, face-to-face.

Our relationship with Russia is not straightforward. That is all the more reason to be talking to Russia – to manage our differences and co-operate where possible for the security of both our nations and the international community.

I am looking forward to visiting Moscow, to engaging with the Russian government and a wider range of Russian people including civil society and the all important next generation”.