10 Sep 2018

PM reinforces condemnation of Russia after Novichok suspects named

7:46 pm on 10 September 2018

The Prime Minister insists New Zealand has been strong in its condemnation of Russia, after last week's developments in the Novichok poisoning case in the United Kingdom.

No caption

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told media at her Post Cabinet briefing New Zealand has been strong in its condemnation of Russia after developments in the Novichok poisoning case. Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were poisoned with nerve agent Novichok in March.

Two Russian nationals were named as suspects in the attempted murder of Mr Skripal and Yulia.

Scotland Yard and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said there was enough evidence to charge the men.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May said the men, using the names Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, were thought to be officers from Russia's military intelligence service.

Ms Ardern was asked at her Post Cabinet media briefing whether New Zealand had been swift and strong enough in its response.

"Like our partners, we absolutely condemn, as we have done before, the use of chemical weapons be it in Syria, be it on the streets of the UK. Anyone who uses such weapons must be held to account," Ms Ardern said.

Foreign Minister Winston Peters issued a statement "welcoming progress" in the inquiry, but made no mention of Russia, except to note that's where the two suspects were from.

Today his office issued a further statement, saying there now seemed to be enough evidence to support a prima facie case.

It said New Zealand has "consistently supported the United Kingdom and international community in condemning the Salisbury attack and Russia's involvement".

"Any perception the New Zealand government has not been strong and supportive of the international community is misguided," the statement read.

- With additional reporting by BBC

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs