Soldiers wearing protective clothing prepare to lift a tow truck in Hyde Road, Gillingham, Dorset, England as the investigation into the suspected nerve agent attack on Russian double agent Sergei Skripal continues Wednesday March 14, 2018. The army cordoned off a road in Dorset on Wednesday as the investigated the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. Authorities have cordoned off several sites in and near Salisbury, 90 miles (145 kilometers) southwest of London as part of their probe. (Andrew Matthews/PA via AP)

Canada backs British claims Russian officials approved spy’s poisoning

British authorities accused two Russian nationals of attempting to kill Sergei Skripal and daughter

The Canadian government has backed British claims that Vladimir Putin’s government “almost certainly” approved a poison attack against a former Russian spy and his daughter in the U.K. earlier this year.

The expression of support was delivered in a joint statement with the U.S., Germany and France on Thursday as Western allies sought to present a united front against — and ratchet up public pressure on — the Kremlin.

The statement came after British authorities accused two Russian nationals of attempting to kill Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, with the nerve agent Novichok in the city of Salisbury in March.

British Prime Minister Theresa May described the suspects as Russian military intelligence officers and alleged the March attack in Salisbury was approved by senior government officials in Moscow.

British Security Minister Ben Wallace went further, saying Putin himself was ultimately responsible for the attack.

Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement in the attack, which also sickened a British police officer and been linked to the death of a British woman, Dawn Sturgess, who accidentally came in June came contact with the same substance, which was developed by the Soviet Union as a chemical weapon.

Canada and its allies, however, said they had “full confidence in the British assessment that the two suspects were officers from the Russian military intelligence service … and that this operation was almost certainly approved at a senior government level.”

They demanded Russia open its Novichok program to international inspectors, urged anyone with information about the attack to speak to authorities — and vowed to disrupt “the hostile activities of foreign intelligence networks on our territories.”

The Salisbury attack has both resurrected memories of the Cold War and become a symbol of a new era of tensions between Moscow and the West that started in earnest in 2014 with Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

Relations between Canada and Russia have not been spared, with the two countries involved in various wars of words and tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions — including one round in March that was in direct response to the Salisbury attack.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has described the attack as “unacceptable and unlawful,” and insisted Canada would work with the U.K. and its allies to hold Russia to account.

Moscow has maintained it was not involved, with Russian Ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia saying on Thursday the latest allegations by London and its allies were designed “to unleash a disgusting anti-Russian hysteria.”

Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, described the allegations levelled against Russian president and his government as “unacceptable.”

British authorities announced on Wednesday said two Russians, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, were being charged in absentia for the Salisbury attack after a lengthy investigation.

Russian officials have said they don’t recognize the suspects — whose names are believed to be aliases — and Peskov said Russia “has no reasons” to investigate them because Britain had not asked for legal assistance in the case.

With files from The Associated Press.

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

B.C. father and sons launch new trunk-sharing system, ‘Trunkit’

Smiths say peer-to-peer shipping service offers an affordable, green alternative

Summerland thrift store to offer reusable cloth bags

Bags at Summerland Health Care Auxiliary Thrift Store will be available at a nominal cost in March

Family Day move a welcome change: poll

Okanagan readers voted that the new date for Family Day in B.C. is a positive change

Penticton athlete takes home gold in freestyle aerials at Canada Games

Brayden Kuroda won the event with a combined score of 121.65.

Penticton Vees look to playoffs after Feb. 16 win against Langley

The team needs to win two of their last three games to claim the division title

VIDEO: First responders save man friends say overdosed on fentanyl

Friends administered personal stores of naloxone before responders arrived

Lost a ring? This B.C. man will find it for you

Chris Turner founded The Ring Finders, an international directory of metal detector hobbyists

Salmon Arm’s Laura Hall on bronze-winning skating squad

Hall’s team placed third in long track team pursuit at the Canada Winter Games

Poverty coalition has high hopes for B.C. poverty reduction strategy

Funding allocation expected to be released with 2019 budget

‘How did we get here?’: B.C. mom of transplant recipient worries about measles outbreaks

Addison, 7, cannot get a live vaccine because she has a heart transplant

Review: Joie de Vivre a celebration of homegrown talent

The Okanagan Symphony Orchestra concert featured Ernst Schneider

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh calls for public inquiry over SNC-Lavalin questions

Vancouver member of Parliament Jody Wilson-Raybould resigned from cabinet last week

Canadian airlines waiting for guidance from Ottawa over X gender option

Major U.S. airlines said they will change their process so passengers can identify themselves along non-binary lines

Moose Hide campaign takes message to Canadian schools

Campaign launches new K-12 education platform

Most Read