Salisbury attack: EU urged to sanction Putin

German MEP Rebecca Harms has called on EU countries to boycott the World Cup due to be held in Russia this summer.

Vladimir Putin | Photo credit: Press Association images

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

19 Mar 2018

German MEP Rebecca Harms has called on EU countries to boycott the World Cup due to be held in Russia this summer.

She also suggested the event might be moved to another venue.

Her comments follow the recent attempted assassination of a former Russian double agent and his daughter in the UK. Both remain critically ill in hospital while a police officer who was also affected is still in hospital.

Speaking to this website on Monday, Harms, a former leader of Parliament’s Greens/EFA group, said, “The attacks in Salisbury are a very serious reason to again reconsider our relations to the Kremlin.

“I always opposed the Fifa’s decision to grant the World Cup to President Vladimir Putin. The decision might have been the result of corruption and is definitely not in accordance with the idealistic ideas of peace and friendship Fifa and Uefa officials aim to portray.

“Since the Kremlin decided to occupy Crimea and to wage war against Ukraine and even more since the terrible escalation of war in Syria with the direct involvement of the Russian army, I cannot comprehend how anybody can believe in love and peace during the World Cup in Russian cities.”

The MEP added, “I therefore strongly recommend that politicians should stay away from this World Cup. Leaders should not strengthen the increasingly authoritarian and anti-western path of the Russian President.

“Moreover, I believe that it is never too late to change the venue of the World Cup. I would rather accept having some organisational problems than a global show to support the neo-imperial strategy of Vladimir Putin who uses major international sport events for his thirst for glory.”

“The EU has to decide on common sanctions following the attack in Salisbury, but we should not exclusively consider a boycott of the World Cup as the only instrument. Our strength towards Putin and the Kremlin will be defined by how the UK government is dealing with Russian money in London, how Germany deals with Northstream 2 and how we unite in our non-military reactions. We cannot allow the Russian President to split the European Union.”

Meanwhile, member states issued a strongly worded condemnation of Russia on Monday, when EU foreign ministers were due to meet in Brussels to discuss at the meeting.

It reads, “The European Union strongly condemns the attack that took place against Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury, UK on 4 March 2018, that also left a police officer seriously ill.

“The lives of many citizens were threatened by this reckless and illegal act. The European Union takes extremely seriously the UK government's assessment that it is highly likely that the Russian Federation is responsible.

“The European Union is shocked at the offensive use of any military-grade nerve agent, of a type developed by Russia, for the first time on European soil in over 70 years. The use of chemical weapons by anyone under any circumstances is completely unacceptable and constitutes a security threat to us all.

“Any such use is a clear violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, a breach of international law and undermines the rules-based international order. The EU welcomes the commitment of the UK to work closely with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in supporting the investigation into the attack.

“The Union calls on Russia to address urgently the questions raised by the UK and the international community and to provide immediate, full and complete disclosure of its Novichok programme to the OPCW.”

It went on, “The European Union expresses its unqualified solidarity with the UK and its support, including for the UK’s efforts to bring those responsible for this crime to justice.

“The EU will remain closely focussed on this issue and its implications.

On Monday, the Council also added four people to the list of those targeted by EU restrictive measures against the Syrian regime.

A statement said, “The EU added these four for their role in the development and use of chemical weapons against the civilian population, in line with the EU's policy to fight the proliferation and use of chemical weapons.”

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