Trump says it "looks like" Putin was behind Salisbury nerve agent attack

The US President said his administration is "taking it very seriously"

Trump says it "looks like" Putin was behind Salisbury nerve agent attack

United States President Donald Trump meets with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at The White House, 15-03-208. Image: Sipa USA/SIPA USA/PA Images

US President Donald Trump has said it “looks like” his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin was behind the Salisbury nerve agent attack.

President Trump was speaking ahead of a meeting with the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the White House this afternoon.

Asked by reporters whether he believed Putin was behind the attack, President Trump replied, “it looks like it.”

He said he has spoken with the British Prime Minister Theresa May about the incident with “deep discussions” ongoing.

“It is a very sad situation,” he said. “It certainly looks like the Russians were behind it.”

“It is something that should never, ever happen and we are taking it very seriously - as I think are many others.”

International response

His comments came after the leaders of France, Germany, the US and the UK issued a rare joint statement voicing their ‘abhorrence’ at the attack on a former Russian double agent and his daughter in the UK.

The statement also laid the blame at Russia’s door, claiming "there is no plausible alternative explanation."

The US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley has already said the US stands in “absolute solidarity with Great Britain.”

Attempted murder

Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia remain in critical condition in a British hospital.

They were found unconscious on a bench in Salisbury almost two weeks ago.

A British policeman also remains seriously ill.

Nerve agent

British investigators have said the pair were targeted with the agent ‘Novichok’ – which was originally developed in Russia during the Cold War. They have claimed the weapon could only have been manufactured using the highest grade state laboratories. 

The British Prime Minister Theresa May has told the Houses of Parliament in Westminster that Russia was responsible – and announced the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats, she claimed were “undeclared intelligence officers.”

It is the biggest expulsion in over 30 years and the diplomats have been given just one week to leave the country.

Moscow is expected to expel a number of British diplomats in response to the expulsion.

Denial

Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement in the attack with the country’s representative on the UN Security Council accusing Mrs May of making “completely irresponsible statements" and "threats to a sovereign state."

The country has said it will not respond to Britain's demand for answers until it receives samples of the chemical used in the attack.

At the Security Council, Russian representative Vasily Nebenzya said: “This is not optional. This is a mandatory requirement under the [Chemical Weapons] Convention.”

“We have nothing to fear,” he said. “We have nothing to hide.”

Propaganda

Meanwhile, the Russian ambassador to Ireland has described the British response to the Salisbury attack as ‘hype’ and ‘propaganda.'

Ambassador Filotov argued: "Instead of going through normal, legal and logical ways, British authorities chose to really hype... [a] campaign against Russia."

He suggested the British response was "unprecedented in its provocative manner."