Polish FM says Russia behind attack on ex-spy in UK

Poland’s authorities are “certain” that Russia was involved in an attempt to poison an ex-spy in the British town of Salisbury earlier this month, Poland’s foreign minister said on Friday.

Jacek Czaputowicz was speaking in London, where he met his British counterpart Boris Johnson to discuss issues including strained relations between London and Moscow after former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were targeted in a suspected nerve agent attack in England on March 4.

“Poland has a long history of relations with Russia, in particular with Vladimir Putin’s regime, and we have many (contentious) issues with them,” Czaputowicz said, as quoted by Poland’s PAP news agency.

“Our relations are quite difficult at the moment because we do not accept Russia’s aggressive policies,” Czaputowicz added.

The suspected nerve agent attack in Salisbury, southern England, “is just another example,” Czaputowicz said.

Meanwhile, Britain’s Johnson told reporters at a joint news conference with Czaputowicz that Russian President Vladimir Putin is “overwhelmingly likely” to have ordered the nerve agent attack on Skripal and his daughter, according to reports.

“We think it overwhelmingly likely that it was his decision to direct the use of a nerve agent on the streets of the UK, on the streets of Europe, for the first time since the Second World War,” Johnson said, as quoted by the BBC.

Tension in relations with Russia was one of the main topics of the two foreign ministers’ talks at a Royal Air Force base in Uxbridge in west London on Friday, public broadcaster Polish Radio’s IAR news agency reported.

It quoted Poland’s Czaputowicz as saying that Russia’s actions demanded a decisive response.

“We talked about the next steps we can take: we need to look at Russia’s actions in the long run, we want to play our part in mobilising our friends within the European Union and NATO to do something and protest against this kind of illegal action,” the Polish top diplomat said, as quoted by IAR.

Meanwhile, amid an international outcry over the suspected nerve agent attack in southern England, NATO’s secretary-general has said that Russia “has underestimated the resolve and unity of” Britain’s allies.

During their London meeting, Czaputowicz and Johnson signed a memorandum on cooperation between the governments in Warsaw and London in combating Russian disinformation, IAR said.

The two officials also toured a museum housed in a bunker in west London where an air force command was headquartered during the 1940 Battle of Britain, in which Polish airmen played an important role, IAR reported.

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