Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia
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Salisbury Attack: Allies Stand With Britain And Frustration Builds Against Russia's Latest Claims

EU leaders promise an "unprecedented" diplomatic response to the Salisbury attack and Russia claims the nerve agent could have come from...

Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia

EU leaders have promised an "unprecedented" diplomatic response to the Salisbury nerve agent attack after backing Theresa May's assertion that Russia was to blame.

At the end of the two-day summit in Brussels, European Council president Donald Tusk said the recall of the EU's ambassador to Moscow for "consultations" would be followed by further action by member states.

The reaction from the EU came as the British diplomats thrown out by the Kremlin returned to the UK.

In an indication of a possible escalation in the EU response, French President Emmanuel Macron said France and Germany would be among the countries taking "co-ordinated measures" against Russia, with an announcement due "very shortly".

Russia now claims that the nerve agent that was involved in the Salisbury attack could have come from within Porton Down.

Speaking with the BBC, Gary Aitkenhead, CEO at Defence Science & Technology Lab, Porton Down said it was "frustrating" to hear that Russia was suggesting the nerve agent could have come from the lab.

"We've got the highest levels of controls, of security around the work that we do here."

"We would not be allowed to operate if we had lack of control that could result in anything leaving the four walls of our facility here.

"We've got complete confidence that there's nothing that could have come from here, out into the wider world." 

"It's a coincidence that it's down the road that this has happened. It's very frustrating to hear that because everyone knows that's just not true."

Mr Aitkenhead's comments were echoed by Sir David Pepper who is the Chair of the Defence Science and Technology Lab at Porton Down.

"That's just nonsense. This is a defensive organisation and we know that the Russian's have been suggesting that certain buildings are for making chemical warfare and that's just complete rubbish."

Mrs May, who set out Britain's case against the Kremlin over dinner on Thursday night, welcomed the strong recognition of the threat Russia posed to their collective security.

She said that in the run-up to the summit, Britain had been sharing what information it could through "intelligence channels" as it sought to make the case for Russian responsibility.

"The threat from Russia is one that respects no borders."

"I think it is clear that Russia is challenging the values we share as Europeans, and it is right that we are standing together in defence of those values," she said.

Her comments were echoed by Mr Macron, who told a joint news conference with Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel: "We consider this an attack on European sovereignty."

He disclosed that France had been asked for technical assistance relating to the Salisbury investigation, which it stood ready to provide.

Mr Tusk said the EU response to the incident was "unprecedented", with the next steps by national governments expected as early as Monday.

"It is very difficult to prepare an adequate reaction to this kind of behaviour with nerve agents. We will never have a real chance to respond adequately because we are completely different to the perpetrators of this attack," he said.

Mr Tusk expressed satisfaction that he had achieved his goal of maintaining a "united" front among the 28 EU member states, despite their different stances towards Russia due to different geographical positions and political traditions.

"I think it was the best reaction we were able to decide on," he said.

In a hint at the underlying tensions, he acknowledged that not all member states would be taking further measures. Asked how many might take action, he said: "More than one, but I don't think it will be the whole group."

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