NATO to meet on poisoning of Putin critic Navalny

The poisoning of Alexei Navalny will be discussed at an urgent NATO meeting on Friday after European leaders threatened fresh sanctions against Moscow, which has furiously denied targeting the Russian opposition leader, reports AFP.

The 44-year-old lawyer, one of President Vladimir Putin’s chief critics, fell ill on a flight last month and was evacuated to Germany for treatment.

Western leaders have demanded answers from the Kremlin after Berlin said there was “unequivocal evidence” that he had been afflicted by the infamous Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok.

The same substance was used against Russian ex-double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the English town of Salisbury two years ago, and Germany’s claim prompted widespread condemnation.

Germany will brief a special meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization at 12:30pm Brussels time (1030 GMT), with the alliance’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to hold a press conference after it concludes.

The Skripal case — the first offensive use of chemical weapons in Europe since World War II — prompted NATO to expel seven Russian diplomats in retaliation.

The EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell earlier called on Moscow to cooperate with an international probe into the poisoning and said the 27-nation bloc would not rule out sanctions.

Brussels condemned “in the strongest possible terms the  assassination attempt”, the Borrell statement said.