Russia is definitely behind the poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergey Skripal and his daughter with a military-grade nerve agent in southern England, former Ukrainian President Viktor Yuschenko said in an interview with U.K. media Sky News.
Yuschenko said it was right for a large number of Russian diplomats to be forced to leave European countries and the United States, but that it may not be enough, and joint military actions might even be required.
Yuschenko said he had no doubt Moscow had poisoned the former Russian spy, saying he was familiar with the Kremlin’s methods. The ex-president was himself poisoned in 2004, and he believes the assassination attempt against him was ordered by Moscow when he was about to reorient Ukraine towards Europe – a political move opposed by the Kremlin.
“I have no doubt (that Russia carried out the attack on Skripal). I want Western society – Western governments and European governments in particular – to have no doubt too,” the former Ukrainian president told Sky News on March 28.
If Russia was indeed behind the attack, this would be the first known offensive use of a nerve toxin in Europe since the Second World War.
Yuschenko said he was glad the UK had received such strong international support, with 26 countries and NATO expelling a total of 150 Russian diplomats, but he would not “end there with this single step, which we use to confront the modern (dangerous) imperial Russian policy.” The ex-president said that military action should not be ruled out, as every Russian provocation had to be “answered.”
“Answering is not aggressive,” Yuschenko said. “We’re not talking about conquering. We’re talking about a normal reaction to the aggressive actions of Russia on Ukrainian territory today.”
Yuschenko led the Orange Revolution – a series of protests in Ukraine lasting from late November 2004 to January 2005, which led to the overturning of a rigged presidential election and the election of Yuschenko as president after a re-run. In the heat of the presidential campaign he suddenly fell ill and disappeared. When he reappeared, his face was disfigured, the result of what his doctors described as a near-fatal dose of dioxin.
Dioxin is a primary component in the defoliating chemical known as Agent Orange – a “symbolic” and “ironic” message to the Yuschenko family, he said.
Britain expelled 23 Russians on March 14 after stating that the nerve agent used to poison Skripal was of a type developed by Russia, called Novichok. Russia denied any involvement in the attack, and three days after, on March 17, it mirrored the measures, expelling 23 British diplomats from its territory. The Kremlin also ordered the closure of the U.K.’s consulate in St. Petersburg and the British Council, a cultural organization, in Moscow.
Russia has always denied having any involvement in the Yuschenko poisoning as well.
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