Broken link in EU Skripal solidarity: CDU vice-chair asks “Shouldn’t you have evidence?”

The German CDU vice, the FDP vice, and the Federal Government's Russia Commissioner all call for things not to get out of hand

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Die Sterne, © Henning KaiserDPA [Deutsche Press Agentur]

“Shouldn’t you have evidence?” CDU Vice Laschet criticizes Western action in Skripal affair
CDU Vice Armin Laschet has criticized the Western approach in the Skripal Affair and thus, indirectly, Chancellor Angela Merkel.  According to the Times, the British authorities know which laboratory the poison came from*. CDU Vice Armin Laschet criticized the actions of the West in the Skripal affair.

North Rhine-Westphalia’s Prime Minister Armin Laschet has criticized the actions of the Western states – especially that of Great Britain – in the affair surrounding the poisoned ex-double agent Sergei Skripal. “If you force almost all NATO countries into solidarity, then shouldn’t you have secure evidence?” The CDU Vice wrote on Twitter. He refers to the message that the British military laboratory, that investigated the toxin used, can not securely trace it back to Russia. “You can deal with Russia as you like, but in my study of International Law, I learned a rather different way of treating states.”

Indirect criticism of Angela Merkel

Laschet is thus the first well-known CDU politician to express criticism for dealing with the Skripal affair. CDU Chancellor Angela Merkel had already stated shortly after the incident, in a joint statement with the US and France, that Germany stands behind Britain: The British statements that Russia was responsible for this are plausible. Laschet did not wish to comment on his tweet. “The tweet stands for itself,’ said a spokesman.

The dispute between Moscow and London has triggered a serious diplomatic crisis. Around 25 Western countries – including Germany and NATO – together dismissed around 150 Russian diplomats in response to the attack. Moscow in turn sent as many Western diplomats out of the country.

The former Russian double agent Skripal had been poisoned on 4 March together with his daughter Julia in Salisbury, southern England. The 66-year-old has been in critical condition, his 33-year-old daughter is doing better. According to British researchers a neurotoxin from the Nowitschok group, which was once developed in the Soviet Union, was used in the attack. The Times reports that according to government sources, the British authorities are certain which “secret Russian laboratory” was the source of the poison used. This was already discovered in the days following.

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Armin Laschet follows the criticism from Wolfgang Kubicki Before Laschet, FDP Vice Wolfgang Kubicki had already expressed similar criticism of the actions of the West. He said in mid-March that he considers the government’s actions “at least premature and negligent.” Kubicki had also cited statements made by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, according to which the nerve agent could come from laboratories outside Russia, from Uzbekistan, for example, a lab which had been disbanded with the participation of American experts following the collapse of the Soviet Union. “We should not throw our civilizational achievement of the presumption of innocence overboard at the moment when the identification of a supposed perpetrator seems politically opportune for some,” said the Bundestag vice-president.

The Russia Commissioner of the Federal Government, Gernot Erler advises for the time being against further punitive measures. “I think you have to recognize the risk of this spiral of escalation and say: “Now we need a break”,” he said in the ARD Morgenmagazin. Erler called for talks between Russia and the West, as there is “no alternative.” Erler also noted that a temporary stop to the escalation is “factually necessary”, because next week, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) submit the results of their laboratory tests. “Maybe that will actually lead further,” said Erler. However, the OPCW lacked any cross-check to match the poison used in the attack on former double agent Skripal.

OPCW expects results next week The United Kingdom accuses Russia of being behind the attack and wants to have evidence that is not presented to the public. The British military laboratory could not trace the origin back to Russia, because it required counter samples from there. However, only “state actors” were able to produce and store Novichok, said the laboratory manager.

The OPCW expects the results of the laboratory tests in the coming week. It will then hand the report over to the UK, the organization said at the special session of its Executive Council, which Russia had requested. OPCW experts had taken samples from Salisbury, UK, and received blood samples from the victims. These are analyzed in international laboratories.Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, meanwhile, raised further allegations against Britain. The British government can not ignore Russia’s “legitimate issues” Lavrov said before a scheduled meeting of the UN Security Council on the case. Lavrov renewed the demand for a “substantial and responsible” investigation in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention.

*[This curious sentence, which any composition instructor would flag as atopical, or misplaced, is likely a Die Sterne editorial addition – tr.]

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