No new Russia sanctions, or Tusk letter to Putin

Prime Minister Theresa May leaves Downing Street for Prime Ministers Questions

Theresa May will update fellow EU leaders on the Salisbury spy attack on Thursday evening but has not requested any further sanctions on Russia following the attack, an EU official has said.

“Nobody is talking about additional sanctions”, a senior EU official told reporters on Tuesday (20 March), ahead of a European Council summit in Brussels starting on Thursday.

“I was not approached by my colleagues from London to put on the table restrictive measures,” he added.

The UK has expelled 23 diplomats after the UK Prime Minister May said Russia was “culpable” for the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the market town of Salisbury, both of whom remain critically ill in hospital. Russia has retaliated by ordering 23 UK officials to leave its country.

London claims that the two victims had been exposed to a nerve agent called Novichok which they believe was developed by Russia.

The UK was offered “unqualified solidarity” by fellow EU foreign ministers on Monday. But that “solidarity” is not going to be supplemented by additional EU economic sanctions on Russia. For its part, the UK government decided against imposing its own sanctions on Russia at a meeting on Tuesday.

The attack “poses a number of questions about European preparedness”, the EU official said.

Juncker urges Putin to 're-establish' security cooperation

EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker urged Vladimir Putin on Tuesday (20 March) to help “re-establish” continental security cooperation following his re-election, amid mounting concern over the poisoning of an ex-spy in Britain.

Earlier on Tuesday, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker urged President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday (20 March) to help “re-establish” continental security cooperation following his re-election for a fourth term.

“I have always argued that positive relations between the European Union and Russian Federation are crucial to the security of our continent,” Juncker said in a congratulatory letter to the Russian president.

However, the EU official warned that the Russian president should not expect a similar message from the European Council boss.

Tusk “hasn’t sent a congratulation letter and I would not be surprised if he doesn’t send it at all,” said the official.

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