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Accusations against Russia in Skripal case senseless until probe ends, Austria says

March 19, 12:23 UTC+3

Austria is not backing the United Kingdom in its accusations

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Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl

Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl

© EPA-EFE/GIUSEPPE LAMI

BRUSSELS, March 19. /TASS/. Accusations against Moscow over the incident with the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal are premature until the investigation is over, Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl said.

"In our view, first there is the need to carry out an expert-level investigation to establish a full picture of events before voicing any accusations, ideas and deliberations. A full-fledged investigation should be carried out jointly with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and other partners," the minister said.

According to Kneissl, a full picture of the case won’t be established at a meeting of the EU Council on Monday and therefore Austria is not backing the United Kingdom in its accusations.

On March 4, ex-intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious on a bench near the Maltings shopping center in Salisbury after being exposed to a nerve agent. Both are in hospital in critical condition.

The UK accused Russia of involvement, but failed to present any evidence. UK Prime Minister Theresa May on March 14 accused Russia of "an unlawful use of force" against her country. She said that 23 Russian diplomats would be expelled from the country within one week and that all planned high-level bilateral contacts had been suspended.

On Saturday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry announced that 23 British diplomats were declared persona non grata and would be expelled within a week. Moreover, the British Consulate General in St. Petersburg is due to be closed and the British Council would stop operating in Russia.

According to Kneissl, a full picture of the case won’t be established at a meeting of the EU Council on Monday and therefore Austria is not backing the United Kingdom in its accusations.

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