France backs Britain in crisis with Russia

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French President Emmanuel Macron Thursday said the poisoning in Britain of exiled Russian former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia apeared 'attributable' to the Russian authorities, describing it as an 'unacceptable attack on the soil of an allied country' and pledged to announce retaliation measures 'in the coming days'.

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French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday he shared Britain’s assessment that Russia was behind a nerve agent attack on a former spy living in England and vowed to take measures in response in the coming days, reports Reuters.

France initially hesitated in fully backing Britain’s position that Russia was to blame, saying on Wednesday it first wanted clear proof. But after speaking with British Prime Minister Theresa May, Macron sought to clear up any ambiguity.

“Everything suggests that the responsibility is in fact attributable to Russia and in this the work carried out by the British [intelligence] services, shared with the French services, confirms it,” Macron told reporters.

“France strongly condemns this unacceptable attack on the soil of an allied country and I want to offer here all my solidarity to Theresa May.”

His office said a united response with European and transatlantic allies was needed, but quite what France might do remains unclear, especially as Macron has sought to turn a new leaf in relations with Russia since coming to office last year.

Tensions were high between Macron’s predecessor François Hollande and Russian President Vladimir Putin, especially over Russia’s seizure of Crimea in 2014, which prompted Paris to cancel a multi-billion dollar warship deal.

Macron, 40 and new to international affairs, is due to be the guest of honour at an investor forum in St. Petersburg in late May, when a large French business delegation will accompany him in an effort to boost bilateral economic ties.

“I will announce in the coming days the measures that we intend to take,” Macron said, declining to say whether the visit to Russia would go ahead.

Read more of this report from Reuters.

 

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