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British Defense Chief Says Countries United Over Ex-Spy's Poisoning

British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson
British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson

Britain's defense chief says that many countries are united behind Britain over the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter and are pushing back against Russian efforts to divide the West.

"What [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin wishes to do is to divide Britain from its allies," Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson told reporters during a visit to Estonia on March 26.

Former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia remain hospitalized in critical condition after they were found collapsed on a bench in the English city of Salisbury on March 4.

Britain accuses Putin's government of using a military-grade nerve agent that was developed during the Cold War, part of a series known as Novichok, to attack them with intent to kill.

On March 23, the EU collectively condemned the attack, said it was "highly likely" that Moscow was responsible, and agreed to take further punitive measures.

Several EU countries are expected to expel Russian diplomats this week, after Britain expelled 23 Russian diplomats it said were spies.

"The fact that right across the NATO alliance, right across the European Union, nations have stood up in support of the United Kingdom...I actually think that is the very best response that we could have," Williamson said.
Based on reporting by Reuters

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