The nerve agent attack in Salisbury has crystallised a “global wave of revulsion” against Russia, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has said.
Mr Johnson used a major foreign policy speech in London to praise friends and allies who surprised Moscow with their strong support for the UK.
The Foreign Secretary said: “Never before has there been a collective expulsion of Russian diplomats on the scale that we have seen over the last few days.
The Foreign Secretary said that the concerted global action should act as a wake-up call for Moscow (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
“It seems clear that the Kremlin underestimated the strength of global feeling.
“I do not for one moment believe that this global wave of revulsion has been prompted solely by Salisbury, let alone a sentimental love or affection for the UK.
“It wasn’t about us. It was about all of us and the kind of world we want to live in.
“Because, I believe these expulsions represent a moment when a feeling has suddenly crystallised.
“When years of vexation and provocation have worn the collective patience to breaking point, and when across the world – across three continents – there are countries who are willing to say enough is enough.”
The Foreign Secretary said that the concerted global action should act as a wake-up call for Moscow.
“If they believed that no one would give a fig about the suffering of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, or that we would be indifferent to the reckless and contemptuous disregard for public safety that saw 39 others seek medical treatment, if they believed that we had become so morally weakened, so dependent on hydrocarbons, so chronically risk averse and so fearful of Russia that we would not dare to respond, then this is their answer.
“Because these countries know full well that they face the risk of retaliation. And frankly there are countries that have taken action that are more vulnerable to Russia than we are, whether through geography or their energy needs.”
Mr Johnson said the strong international support for the UK bode well for Brexit.
“I believe there are many British people who have found it immensely reassuring to learn we may be leaving the EU in exactly a year but we will never be alone, and in part that commitment to Britain reflects Britain’s reciprocal commitment to our friends.”
The Foreign Secretary said the UK still had to reach out and “extend the hand of friendship to the Russian people”.
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