ABOARD U.S. GOVERNMENT AIRCRAFT - U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is backing up British Prime Minister Theresa May’s assertion that Russia is behind the attack on a former Russian spy in England, saying it certainly “will trigger a response.”
“This is a really egregious act. It appears that it clearly came from Russia,” Tillerson said Monday en route to Cape Verde.
Tillerson spoke with British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson over the phone shortly after taking off from Nigeria. Tillerson wrapped up his five-nation trip to Africa on Monday.
May said it is clear that former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia. She added that the action amounted to a use of chemical weaponry on British territory.
Russia refuted May’s allegation, saying it is another political campaign based on provocation.
“There is never a justification for this type of attack — the attempted murder of a private citizen on the soil of a sovereign nation — and we are outraged that Russia appears to have again engaged in such behavior,” said Tillerson in a statement released by the State Department. “From Ukraine to Syria — and now the U.K. — Russia continues to be an irresponsible force of instability in the world, acting with open disregard for the sovereignty of other states and the life of their citizens.”
The statement continued: “We agree that those responsible — both those who committed the crime and those who ordered it — must face appropriately serious consequences. We stand in solidarity with our Allies in the United Kingdom and will continue to coordinate closely our responses.”
Tillerson told a small group of reporters, “It’s almost beyond comprehension that a state, an organized state, would do something like that.”