Secretary of State Rex Tillerson took a bold stance at odds with the White House Monday, specifically pointing a finger at Russia for the poisoning of a former Russian double agent and his daughter in the UK last week.
"This is a really egregious act. It appears that it clearly came from Russia,” Tillerson said in a statement. “Whether it came from Russia with the Russian government's knowledge is not known to me at this point.”
Earlier in the day, the White House condemned the nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, England, but refused to put the blame on or even mention Russia. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called the attack an “outrage,” but when asked by a reporter if "you’re not saying Russia was behind this," she responded by saying, “Right now we’re standing with our UK allies.”
Tillerson, on the other hand, decried the nerve agent attack and said that “we are outraged that Russia appears to have again engaged in such behavior.”
“From Ukraine to Syria — now the UK — Russia continues to be an irresponsible force of instability in the world, acting with open disregard for the sovereignty of other states and the life of their citizens,” Tillerson added.
Speaking to reporters flying back to Washington from Nigeria, Tillerson vowed the attack would “certainly trigger a response,” according to the Associated Press, and echoed British Prime Minister Theresa May, who on Monday demanded a response from Russia, which she said was “highly likely” behind the incident.
She told parliament that, “should there be no credible response, we will conclude that this action amounts to an unlawful use of force by the Russian state against the United Kingdom,” according to Reuters.
Russia hit back Monday, calling May’s comments a “circus show,” according to Sky News.
Cover image: WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 06: U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson listens during a news conference with U.S. President Donald Trump and Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven in the East Room of the White House March 6, 2018 in Washington, DC. Trump and Lofven are looking to focus on trade and investment between the two countries and ways to achieve shared defense goals. (Photo by Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images)