NATO calls for international response to Navalny poisoning

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NATO on Friday called for the international community to respond to the attempted assassination of leading Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny and said that Moscow must cooperate with an independent investigation.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference that there is no doubt Navalny, a noted critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was poisoned last week in Siberia with the Soviet-era, military-grade chemical nerve agent Novichok. 

“The use of such a weapon is horrific. All allies today were united in condemning this attack,” Stoltenberg.

Navalny is now recovering in a German hospital.

Stoltenberg said that despite Navalny’s attack taking place on Russian soil, the attempt on his life is a violation of international law and requires an international response. 

“This is not just an attack on an individual but on fundamental democratic rights. And it is a serious breach of international law which demands an international response,” he said.  

Stoltenberg said NATO allies are consulting on how to respond to the attack. In response to a similar poisoning attack in 2018 on the Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English town of Salisbury, NATO expelled seven Russian diplomats from their mission at the allied organization. 

There are currently 20 Russian diplomats serving at their mission at NATO, he said. 

Stoltenberg also called on Russia to participate completely in an impartial, international investigation into the circumstances of the attempted assassination and find those responsible. He further said Russia must cooperate with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to turn over all information on the Novichok program. 

“The Russian government must fully cooperate with the organization for the prohibition of chemical weapons on an impartial, international investigation, those responsible for this attack must be held accountable and brought to justice,” he said.

“We also call on Russia to provide complete disclosure of the Novichok program to the OPCW.” 

NATO’s condemnation of the attack follows similar statements made by the European Union and the U.S.

White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany on Thursday said the U.S. is “working with our allies and the international community to hold those in Russia accountable wherever the evidence leads and restrict funds for their malign activities.”

Russia has rejected the findings by the German military medical professionals that Navalny was poisoned with Novichok, and Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russia’s representative at the United Nations, called the findings “unproven” and “ridiculous.” 

Tags NATO Navalny poisoning Novichok agent Russia Vladimir Putin

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