Russia slams EU sanctions over Skripal case

By Elena Teslova

MOSCOW (AA) – Russian Foreign Ministry called EU sanctions against Russian citizens over the Skripal case "illegitimate" on Monday.

Only the UN Security Council has the right to impose restrictive measures, the ministry said in a statement published on its official website.

"The information campaign launched by the British authorities on this case primarily pursues domestic political goals," the ministry said.

Russia reserves the right to retaliate, the ministry added.

Earlier today, the European Council put sanctions on four officials of the Russian military intelligence over the alleged use of chemical weapons.

In March last year, former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia were admitted to hospital after being found unconscious in Salisbury, poisoned by Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia, according to British authorities.

Skripal and his daughter were released after months of treatment.

Russia denies its involvement in the case, accusing British authorities of drawing attention away from the Brexit problems.

UPDATE – Russia's Putin warns about possibility of nuclear war

ADDS MORE QUOTES ON SYRIA, TURKEY, KHASHOGGI

By Elena Teslova

MOSCOW (AA) – The current situation, characterized by increasing military tensions, can lead to a nuclear war that will destroy the planet, the Russian president said on Thursday.

The world underestimates the graveness of possible developments of current events, said Vladimir Putin during an annual news conference that gathered over 2,000 journalists at the Moscow International Trade Center congress hall.

The U.S. withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and its intention to end the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty — which are pillars of the international arms control system — decrease the nuclear arms application threshold, and in turn, it can lead to a global nuclear catastrophe, Putin said.

"I hope mankind will have enough common sense not to drive to the extremities," he added.

Putin in this massive news conference is evaluating the main events of 2018, since he was reelected as president for the fourth term.

Speaking about recent developments in Syria, the Russian leader said the U.S. withdrawal of troops from the war-torn country is a possibility but there have been no concrete steps taken as yet.

U.S. President Donald Trump declared victory over Daesh in Syria on Wednesday and announced the withdrawal of troops within 60 to 100 days.

Putin said Washington promises to pull back its soldiers from Afghanistan every year but U.S. troops have remained in the country for 17 years.

He said Russia is satisfied with the developments on the Syrian crisis settlement.

Iran, Russia, and Turkey on Tuesday gave the UN a list of possible members of a committee to revise Syria's constitution.

The committee will be formed in late-2018 or early-2019 and will give a fresh push to the peace process, he said.

On Russian-Turkish relations, Putin said both countries are working for strengthening bilateral relations in different domains, including fight against terrorism and economy.

"Turkey pursues an independent international policy, we appreciate it very much, this creates predictability and stability of the relations. In this sense, the role of the Turkish president is great. We hope, this tendency will be continued under further leadership of Mr. [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan," he said.

Commenting on the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi case, Putin drew parallels with Russian ex-spy Sergey Skripal's poisoning in the U.K.

He said Khashoggi was killed and Skirpal is alive, yet all remains calm in the first case, while in the second a string of sanctions were imposed.

Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post, went missing after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

After producing various contradictory explanations, Riyadh acknowledged he was killed inside the diplomatic building, blaming the act on a botched operation.

Relations between Russia and the U.K. have been tense since March when Skirpal and his daughter came under an alleged nerve agent attack in the southern English Salisbury city.

The British authorities alleged Russia was behind the attempted murder, a charge Moscow denies.

U.K. expelled 23 Russian diplomats — and 121 diplomats were expelled world-wide as a diplomatic crisis brewed.

Chinese daily slams approach of US over Khashoggi case

By Fuat Kabakci

BEIJING (AA) – A Chinese daily criticized the U.S for its “double standards” toward the case of a Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who went missing after entering Saudi Consulate in Istanbul earlier this month.

In an editorial with a headline “Khashoggi case tests Washington’s attitude to human rights,” Global Times said U.S. President Donald Trump promised punishment if the Riyadh’s involvement in Khashoggi's death is confirmed but he doesn't support stopping weapon sales to Saudi Arabia.

"The crisis has shown how human rights issues are positioned in the diplomatic arena. Killing a journalist for political reasons touches the bottom line of individual rights and causes wide resonance beyond national borders,” the daily wrote.

"The price it (Saudi Arabia) will pay depends on whether the Trump administration will let it off the hook for the sake of US commercial interests and geopolitical calculations," it is said.

Khashoggi has long been feared killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul after he entered on Oct. 2 and was never seen exiting.

On the same day, 15 Saudis, including several officials, arrived in Istanbul on two planes and visited the building while Khashoggi was still inside, Turkish police sources said. All of the identified individuals have since left Turkey.

Saudi authorities have yet to give a clear explanation of Khashoggi’s fate, while several countries — particularly Turkey, the U.S. and the U.K. — have expressed their desire that the matter should be elucidated as soon as possible.

The daily compared the approach of the West toward missing Saudi journalist and former Russian agent Sergei Skripal's poisoning in the U.K. in March.

It said the Western countries — led by the Britain — took an immediate action against Russia by expelling Russian diplomats after former Russian agent Sergei Skripal got poisoned in the city of Salisbury in early 2018, but there were very few denunciations from the West against Saudi Arabia upon Khashoggi's disappearance.

"Now Western public opinion is much angrier toward Saudi Arabia. Spontaneous boycotts quickly took place. But in contrast, fewer denunciations come from the Western governments and no country is taking the lead in punishing Saudi Arabia," the newspaper added.

Sergei Skripal and his daughter were admitted to a hospital after being found unconscious on March 4 in the English city of Salisbury. They have both since been discharged.

Police officer Bailey, who was among the first to respond to the incident, also received treatment after being poisoned.

Sergei Skripal was granted refuge in the U.K. following a 2010 spy exchange between the U.S. and Russia. Before the exchange, he had been serving a 13-year prison term for leaking information to British intelligence.

The British government has claimed that in the most debated incident in Salisbury last March, two Russian military intelligence agents who were identified as Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov used a banned nerve agent called novichok targeting former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

UK: Salisbury suspect ID'd as veteran Russian officer

By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal

LONDON (AA) – The real identity of one of the two suspects in the Salisbury nerve agent attack has been revealed as Col. Anatoliy Chepiga, according to British media.

The man, who was earlier identified by British intelligence services as Ruslan Boshirov, is a decorated Russian military intelligence officer, reported online investigative sites Bellingcat and the Insider.

Chepiga, who fought in Chechnya and served in Ukraine, received the highest Russian state medal for his services, The Guardian reported.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) earlier in September said "Boshirov" and Alexander Petrov were wanted for conspiracy to murder Sergei Skripal and the attempted murder of Yulia Skripal and police officer Nick Bailey in March.

In an interview with Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of Russian TV outlet RT, the men confirmed they were the people identified by the U.K. investigators but claimed they were coincidentally in Salisbury at the time as tourists.

A British government spokesman rejected this account, saying: “The government is clear these men are officers of the Russian military intelligence service ‘The GRU’ who used a devastatingly toxic, illegal chemical weapon on the streets of our country.”

Sergei Skripal and his daughter were admitted to a hospital after being found unconscious on March 4 in Salisbury. They have both since been discharged from the hospital.

Police officer Nick Bailey, who was among the first to respond to the incident, also received treatment after being poisoned.

Skripal was granted refuge in the U.K. following a 2010 spy exchange between the U.S. and Russia. Before the exchange, he had been serving a 13-year prison term for leaking information to British intelligence.

UPDATE – UK names Russian nationals as Salisbury attack suspects

UPDATES WITH DETAILS, POLICE STATEMENT

By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal

LONDON (AA) – British prosecutors on Wednesday named two Russian nationals as the suspects of the Salisbury nerve-agent attack that targeted former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal earlier this year.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov are wanted for conspiracy to murder Sergei Skripal and the attempted murder of Yulia Skripal and police officer Nick Bailey.

The CPS Counter Terrorism Division “have considered the evidence and have concluded there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction and it is clearly in the public interest to charge Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, who are Russian nationals,” said Sue Hemming, CPS director of legal services, in a statement.

The offences by Petrov and Ruslan included “use and possession of Novichok contrary to Chemical Weapons Act” and “causing grievous bodily harm with intent to Yulia Skripal and Nick Bailey.”

Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter were admitted to a hospital after being found unconscious on March 4 in Salisbury. They were both since discharged from the Salisbury District Hospital.

In another incident, British authorities say involved the same nerve-agent in Amesbury, a woman died and a man fell seriously ill.

Dawn Sturgess, 44, fell ill on June 30 after handling an item contaminated with the nerve agent and was taken to hospital and her partner, Charlie Rowley, 45, was also exposed to the nerve agent and taken to hospital in a critical condition.

The Metropolitan Police continue a murder investigation into the death of Sturgess.

“Mr. Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia,” specifically from the Novichok group, British Prime Minister Theresa May had said following the attack in Salisbury.

Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Neil Basu said it is likely the suspects were travelling under aliases and Petrov and Boshirov are not their real names

Basu said the suspects arrived in London’s Gatwick Airport from Moscow two days before the suspected attack and then travelled to Salisbury and left London for the Russian capital shortly after poisoning the Skripal’s front door with Novichok nerve-agent.

Also sharing CCTV images from the investigation, Basu said the suspects are believed to be aged around 40.

Sergei Skripal was granted refuge in the U.K. following a 2010 spy exchange between the U.S. and Russia. Before the exchange, he had been serving a 13-year prison term for leaking information to the British intelligence.

Russia missed a deadline set by London to explain how a certain type of military-grade nerve agent was used in the attack.

The incident has drawn comparisons to the 2006 death of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko after drinking radioactive tea. Former KGB bodyguards identified as suspects in the murder denied any involvement.

A world-wide expulsion of 121 Russian diplomats followed the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats from the U.K.

NATO and the EU have supported the U.K. and condemned the attack.

Medvedev: New US sanctions would be 'economic war'

By Elena Teslova

MOSCOW (AA) – Moscow would consider new U.S. sanctions in the financial sector "a declaration of economic war,” Russian prime minister said on Friday.

"Speaking on further sanctions, I would not like to comment but I can say one thing: if a kind of prohibition of bank activities or using this or that currency followed, this can be called absolutely directly, this is a declaration of economic war,” Dmitry Medvedev told a meeting of employees of the Kronotsky Nature Reserve.

“And to this war, we will have to react by economic, political, and, in case of necessity, other methods. And our American friends must understand that."

On Wednesday the U.S. State Department announced its intention to impose new sanctions on Russia over the poisoning of former Russian agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal in March in the southern English city of Salisbury.

Among the penalties, Russia could face in the second round are the suspension of its flagship carrier Aeroflot’s ability to serve U.S. destinations, a downgrade in bilateral ties, and the effective cutting off of all imports and exports.

The sanctions are expected to take effect on or around Aug. 22 following a congressional notification period.

ABD'nin Rusya'ya “Novichok” yaptırımları

ANKARA (AA) – ABD yönetimi, dün açıklanan yaptırımlarla Rusya'ya savunma malzemelerinin satılmasına son vermeyi, silah satışı finansmanının yanı sıra ulusal güvenlik açısından "hassas mallar ve teknolojinin" satışını engellemeyi amaçlıyor.

ABD Dışişleri Bakanlığından üst düzey bir yetkili, eski Rus ajan Sergei Skripal ve kızı Yulia Skripal'ı İngiltere'nin Salisbury kentinde "Novichok" maddesi ile zehirleme girişimi nedeniyle Rusya'ya uygulanacak yeni yaptırımların detaylarına ilişkin telekonferans yöntemiyle basına açıklamalarda bulundu.

Zehirleme girişimine ilişkin, "Rusya'nın kasıtlı bir şekilde gerçekleştirmesi dışında makul alternatif bir açıklamanın olmadığını" vurgulayan yetkili, yaptırımların 1991 Kimyasal ve Biyolojik Silahların Kontrolü ve Ortadan Kaldırılması Yasası (CBW Act) kapsamında iki aşamalı uygulanacağını kaydetti.

Amerikalı yetkili, "Bu yasaya göre, Rusya'ya herhangi bir savunma malzemesinin satılmasına son vermek, silah satışı finansmanı, ulusal güvenlik açısından hassas mallar ve teknolojinin satışını engellemek üzere yaptırım uygulamamız gerekiyor." ifadelerini kullandı.

ABD Dışişleri Bakanlığı yetkilisinin verdiği bilgiye göre, "hassas mallar ve teknolojiler"le ilgili yaptırımların kapsamına Rus devletinin sahip olduğu ya da devlet tarafından desteklenen işletmelere satılacak bazı ABD menşeli elektronik cihazlar, bilgisayarlar, lazerler, algılayıcılar ve haberleşme araçlarının yanı sıra petrol ve gaz üretim cihazları ile bilgi güvenliği teknolojileri gibi ürünler giriyor.

ABD yönetimi, yaptırımlardan milli çıkarlarının en az ölçüde etkilenmesi için Rusya'da aktif ABD şirketlerinin çıkarlarını gözetecek ve bazı alanlarda istisnalar yapabilecek.

CBW Yasası kapsamında yaptırımların en az 12 ay uygulamada kalması gerekiyor. Rusya, yasada belirtilen bazı koşulları sağladıktan sonra bu uygulamaya son verilebilecek. Aksi takdirde üç ay içinde daha ağır yaptırımların olduğu ikinci aşama da yürürlüğe konulacak.

Rusya'nın yerine getirmesi istenen koşullar ise ileride bir daha uluslararası hukuku ihlal ederek kendi vatandaşlarına yönelik kimyasal veya biyolojik silah kullanmaması, buna ilişkin güvenilir garanti vermesi ve Birleşmiş Milletler (BM) ile diğer uluslararası kurumların gözlemcilerinin araştırma yapmalarına izin vermesi gibi kriterlerden oluşuyor.

ABD yönetimi, Kongre'yi yaptırımlar hakkında bilgilendirdi. Yaptırımların ilk aşamasının 22 Ağustos'ta uygulamaya girmesi öngörülüyor.

İngiliz dış istihbarat servisi MI6 için çalıştığı ortaya çıktığında ülkesinde mahkum edilen ve daha sonra casus takasıyla İngiltere'ye gelen Rus ajan Skripal ile kızı, 4 Mart'ta Salisbury'de bir bankta bilinçlerini yitirmiş vaziyette bulunmuştu. Hastaneden taburcu edilen baba kızın tedavilerine evde devam edileceği duyurulmuştu.

İngiltere, Skripal ile kızının zehirlenmesinde, Rusya tarafından imal edildiği ileri sürülen, askeri nitelikte ve sinir sistemi üzerinde etkili bir kimyasal maddenin kullanıldığının kesinlik kazandığını duyurmuştu. Bu maddenin, Sovyetler Birliği'nce 1970 ve 1980'lerde geliştirilen "Novichok" adlı kimyasal grubundan olduğu belirtilmişti.

Russia condemns US sanctions over Salisbury poisoning

By Elena Teslova

MOSCOW (AA) – Moscow on Thursday called new U.S. sanctions against Russia over the Salisbury poisoning incident "unacceptable".

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that both these sanctions and those imposed before by Washington were "illegal and against the international law".

Peskov's remarks came a day after the U.S. State Department announced the intention to impose new sanctions on Russia over the poisoning of Russian agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal in March in the southern English city of Salisbury.

"Of course, such decisions made by the American side are absolutely unfriendly. And it is unlikely that they can be somehow associated with the difficult but constructive atmosphere that was at the last meeting of the two presidents," Peskov said.

However, Russia still hopes for the possibility of restoring constructive relations with the U.S., he said, adding that "it is too early to talk about retaliatory measures".

The sanctions are expected to take effect on or around Aug. 22 following a congressional notification period.

The British government has blamed the incident on Russia, linking the nerve agent to a series of Russia-developed chemical weapons collectively known as Novichok. The Kremlin has denied responsibility.

The Skripals have recovered from the alleged assassination attempt following intensive care at the hospital.

ABD'den Rusya'ya “Novichok” yaptırımı

WASHINGTON (AA) – ABD Dışişleri Bakanlığı, eski Rus ajan Sergei Skripal ve kızı Yulia Skripal'ı İngiltere'nin Salisbury kentinde "Novichok" maddesi ile zehirleme girişimi nedeniyle Rusya'ya yaptırım uygulanacağını duyurdu.

ABD Dışişleri Bakanlığı Sözcüsü Heather Nauert, yaptığı yazılı açıklamada, "İngiltere vatandaşı Sergei Skripal ve kızı Yulia Skripal'e yönelik Novichok adlı sinir gazıyla suikast girişiminin üzerine, ABD hükümeti 6 Ağustos 2018'de, 1991 Kimyasal ve Biyolojik Silahların Kontrolü ve Ortadan Kaldırılması Yasası kapsamında Rusya Federasyonu hükümetinin uluslararası hukuku ihlal ederek kendi vatandaşlarına yönelik kimyasal veya biyolojik silah kullandığını tespit etmiştir." ifadelerini kullandı.

Nauert, Kongrenin bu konuda bilgilendirildiğini ve 15 günlük süre sonunda bu konuda uygulanacak yaptırımların 22 Ağustos'ta Resmi Gazete'de yayımlanacağını belirtti.

Sözcü yaptırımların detaylarına ilişkin bilgi vermedi.

– 4 Mart'ta zehirlenmişlerdi

İngiliz dış istihbarat servisi MI6 için çalıştığı ortaya çıktığında ülkesinde mahkum edilen ve daha sonra casus takasıyla İngiltere'ye gelen Rus ajan Skripal ile kızı, 4 Mart'ta Salisbury'de bir bankta bilinçlerini yitirmiş vaziyette bulunmuştu.

Hastaneden taburcu edilen baba kızın tedavilerine evde devam edileceği duyurulmuştu.

İngiltere, Skripal ile kızının zehirlenmesinde, Rusya tarafından imal edildiği ileri sürülen, askeri nitelikte ve sinir sistemi üzerinde etkili bir kimyasal maddenin kullanıldığının kesinlik kazandığını duyurmuştu.

Bu maddenin Sovyetler Birliği tarafından 1970 ve 1980'lerde geliştirilen "Novichok" adlı kimyasal grubunun üyesi olduğu belirtilmişti.

UK: Yulia Skripal says 'lucky to survive' poisoning

By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal

LONDON (AA) – Yulia Skripal, who was poisoned alongside her father, ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal in a nerve agent attack on British soil in March said she and her father were “very lucky” to survive the attempt on their lives.

Speaking to British media for the first time since she was discharged from Salisbury District Hospital in April after a 20-day-long coma, Skripal said she would like to return to her country “in the long term”.

“The fact that a nerve agent was used to do this is shocking,” Skripal told Reuters in an exclusive interview.

“My life has been turned upside down,” she said.

“I woke to the news that we had both been poisoned,” Skripal said, speaking from a secret London location, where she is under protection.

“We are so lucky to have both survived this attempted assassination. Our recovery has been slow and extremely painful,” she said in a written statement.

Skripal, 66, and his daughter were admitted to a hospital after being found unconscious on March 4 in Salisbury.

“Mr. Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia,” specifically from the Novichok group, British Prime Minister Theresa May said following the attack.

Sergei Skripal was discharged from the same hospital last Friday.

Nick Bailey, a local police officer who was also affected by the nerve agent while giving first aid to the Skripals, was discharged a few days after the alleged attack.

The incident has drawn comparisons to the 2006 death of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko after drinking radioactive tea. Former KGB bodyguards identified as suspects in the murder denied any involvement.

Sergei Skripal was granted refuge in the U.K. following a 2010 spy exchange between the U.S. and Russia. Before the exchange, he had been serving a 13-year prison term for leaking information to the British intelligence.

Russia missed a deadline set by London to explain how a certain type of military-grade nerve agent was used in the attack.

A worldwide expulsion of 121 Russian diplomats followed the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats from the U.K.

NATO and the EU have supported the U.K. and condemned the attack.