Donald Trump Tells Theresa May: US Backs You ‘All The Way’ Over Russia Spy Poisoning Accusation
Donald Trump has told Theresa May the US backs the UK “all the way” after the Prime Minister outlined how it was “highly likely” Russia was to blame for the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury.
During a telephone conversation between the Prime Minister and US President, Trump agreed that Moscow must provide “unambiguous answers as to how this nerve agent came to be used”, according to Downing Street.
A No 10 spokesperson said: “The Prime Minister spoke to President Trump earlier this afternoon to update him on the ongoing investigation into the Salisbury incident.
“The Prime Minister set out the conclusion reached by the UK Government that it was highly likely that Russia was responsible for the attack against Sergei and Yulia Skripal.
“President Trump said the US was with the UK all the way, agreeing that the Russian Government must provide unambiguous answers as to how this nerve agent came to be used.”
Trump told reporters outside the White House earlier on Tuesday that it “sounds to me like it would be Russia” and that he would “condemn Russia or whoever it may be” as “soon as we get the facts straight, if we agree with them”.
The conversation between the two allies comes as Britain has given Moscow until midnight to come up with with a “credible” explanation as to what happened after the UK government claimed it was “highly likely” Russia was responsible.
The prime minister has said if this is not forthcoming, the British government would conclude the attack was an unlawful “use of force” against the UK by Russia.
Earlier, Russia demanded access to samples of the nerve agent that poisoned the former double agent and his daughter.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters on Tuesday morning that Russia was “not to blame” for the attempted murder of the pair.
As the investigation continues, police warned Salisbury residents the complex probe could take “many weeks” and they could see more cordons go up across the city as it continued.
The White House intervened on Monday night, with President Trump’s press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders describing the incident as “an outrage” and vowing the United States would “stand by our closet ally”.
The US later upped the rhetoric as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the poisoning “clearly came from Russia” and vowed it “will trigger a response” as other UK allies swung behind the prime minister.
The use of the phrase was seen as a prelude for seeking a United Nations resolution condemning the act, and possibly cover in international law for any tough response.
Among the options open to the UK and urged by some in Government are extra deployments of troops in Nato states bordering Russia, the expulsion of the Russian ambassador in London and fresh curbs on Russian finance in the UK.