Turkey lightly scolds Russia for UK nerve gas attack

Turkey has made its first official statement about the nerve gas attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter in the English city of Salisbury after almost three weeks, the Voice of America (VOA)’s Turkish-language site reported on Monday.

Sergei Skripal, a former Russian intelligence officer who turned agent for British intelligence during the 1990s, was found unconscious on a bench in Salisbury alongside his daughter Yulia on Mar. 4.

The nerve agent used to poison the pair was discovered to match a type produced by Russia, leading the United Kingdom to condemn Russia and prepare a series of reprisals, including the expulsion of Russian diplomats.

The UK was followed by its allies in the EU and United States, which voiced their condemnation of Russia for the attacks and expelled over 100 Russian diplomats in coordination on Monday.

Statements from Turkish officials on Monday has appeared decidedly lukewarm in comparison, with indirect condemnation but an explicit refusal to join its NATO allies in more concrete action against Russia.

“Turkey acknowledges the use of chemical weapons as a crime against humanity, and sees the attack in England on these terms and condemns it,” said Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hami Aksoy.

While Aksoy said that Ankara shared the same views expressed by NATO general secretary Jens Stoltenberg, who specifically condemned Russia for the attack earlier in March, there was no explicit reference to Russia in the Turkish spokesperson’s statement, as reported by VOA.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister and government spokesperson Bekir Bozdağ did broach the subject on the same day, though his statement is unlikely to like spirits in London.

“Turkey sets its foreign policy on the basis of Turkish national and state interests,” said Bozdağ. “Right now Turkey and Russia have a positive relationship, so we will not be making any kind of decision on Russia.”