Hunt welcomes EU sanctions on Russians accused of Salisbury Novichok attack

Jeremy Hunt has welcomed new sanctions imposed by the European Union on Russians blamed for the Novichok nerve agent attack in Salisbury.

The Foreign Secretary said the decision to place travel bans and asset freezes on nine people delivered on the UK’s pledge to take “tough action against the reckless and irresponsible activities of the Russian military intelligence organisation”.

Four Russians – including the two men accused of planting Novichok in Salisbury last March, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, and their superiors, the head and deputy head of the Russian military intelligence unit the GRU – have been sanctioned, the European Council said.

Sanctions were also imposed on Syria’s Scientific Studies and Research Centre and five Syrian officials directly involved in the centre’s activities.

Mr Hunt said: “Today’s new sanctions deliver on our vow to take tough action against the reckless and irresponsible activities of the Russian military intelligence organisation, the GRU, which put innocent British citizens in serious danger in Salisbury last year.

Salisbury incident
Salisbury incident

“We have also imposed sanctions on individuals and an organisation responsible for the Syrian regime’s abhorrent use of chemical weapons over many years, including in Douma in April 2018.

“The UK has been at the vanguard of this EU action. We will continue to show our willingness to stand up for the international rules that keep us safe, and which the Kremlin and the Assad regime seek to undermine.”

The Council said in a statement that the decision “contributes to the EU’s efforts to counter the proliferation and use of chemical weapons, which poses a serious threat to international security”.

Former KGB spy Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia collapsed on a bench at The Maltings shopping centre on March 5 last year.

Mr Skripal and his daughter survived the attack, which Prime Minister Theresa May said had “almost certainly” been approved by the Russian state.