EU foreign ministers diverge on Russia in Salisbury attack response

The nerve-gas attack, attributed by the UK to Russia, that took place in Salisbury, the UK on 4 March was at the centre of the 19 March Foreign Affairs Council, the EU official statement strongly condemning the attack but failing to explicitly blame Russia or expressing support to UK’s allegations against Russia. However, the official statement’s point of view was not shared by all EU foreign ministers, as some clearly charged Russia for the attack and others were more cautious.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, in the joint statement, urged Russian authorities to provide a credible explanation to the UK. If the Russian involvement is proved, the attack would constitute a serious violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, warned Mogherini. French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, backed by its German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel, said no other actor than Russia could be behind Sergei Skripal’s poisoning. Hungary, Greece and Italy asked for evidence before blaming Russia. These discrepancies make EU foreign policy inefficient and undermine EU image as a strong international actor. Meanwhile, Commission’s president Jean-Claude Juncker addressed a congratulations letter to Russian president Vladimir Putin for his re-election, with a focus on EU-Russia relations improvement but without mentioning the Salisbury attack, highlighting the problematic compartmentalisation of EU's Russia policy.

About author: Martin Macq

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