UK to Ask EU Leaders to Expel Russian Spies from Own Countries
Albanian Daily News
Published March 22, 2018
Vladimir Putin is a long-term threat to Europe, says Theresa May. Photograph: Yuri Kadobnov/APBritain will encourage European leaders to expel Russian intelligence agents from their own countries in a bid to dismantle the Kremlin's networks across Europe, warning that the west faces a long-term threat from Vladimir Putin.
Theresa May will ask European leaders to examine Britain's response to the use of a nerve agent against a Russian double agent and his daughter in Salisbury and step up their own measures when they meet in Brussels on Thursday.
The prime minister will brief leaders over dinner at the European council summit, where she will stress a pattern of aggressive Russian behaviour. "The challenge of Russia is one that will endure for years to come," she will say. "As a European democracy, the UK will stand shoulder to shoulder with the EU and Nato to face these threats together. United, we will succeed."
It is understood conversations over the coming weeks will include the UK making the case that countries should take similar action to expel Russian diplomats believed to be undisclosed intelligence agents, after the UK expelled 23 this week. Downing Street believes the expulsions have now severely limited Russia's intelligence capacity and is understood to be considering further expulsions if further undisclosed intelligence agents are discovered.
A senior Whitehall official said that Russia "has shown itself to be a strategic enemy, not a strategic partner", pointing to a pattern of behaviour including cyber-attacks on countries including Germany, the US and Denmark and aggression in Syria and Ukraine.
However, emphasis is being placed by the official on curbing the Kremlin's capacity to do harm, rather than escalating conflict. "It's not that we are looking for some big confrontation with Russia, or that this is about ultimately regime change," the official said.
In her remarks to EU leaders, May will stress the reckless nature of the attack in Salisbury against Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, who remain seriously ill in hospital, and that the use of the Novichok nerve agent was a clear breach of the chemical weapons convention.
British officials have briefed allies about the precise composition of the nerve agent from the Novichok group for their own experts to assess.
"Disrespect for international rules and norms clearly threatens the basis for our advanced democracy, open society and free economies," a senior No 10 official said. "The Russian threat does not respect borders and as such we are all at risk."
(Source: The Guardian)