Messages to Russian president from US and EU leaders called nauseating and an insult
Donald Trump and Jean-Claude Juncker have violated ranks with western disapproval for Vladimir Putin, issuing their congratulations to the Russian leader for his electoral success even as diplomats were flown out of the UK in retribution for the Salisbury nerve agent attack.
The two leaders were heavily criticised on Tuesday for their overtures to Moscow, which transgressed a taboo among western leaders in appearing to endorse the Russian leader's re-election to a fourth word in power.
The leader of the Conservative party in the European parliament, Ashley Fox, described a letter from Juncker, president of the European commission, as “disgraceful”, while Guy Verhofstadt, the European parliament's representative in Brexit talks, tweeted:” This is no time for congratulations .”
In the US, Senator John McCain resulted the criticism of Trump's choice of words by calling it an” insult to every Russian citizen who was denied the right to vote in a free and fair election “. He added:” An American president does not lead the free world by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections .”
Other western leaders have acknowledged Putin's victory, including Germany's Angela Merkel and the French chairwoman, Emmanuel Macron. But both avoided explicitly using the word “congratulate”, instead” wishing success” to Putin for his new six-year word in office.
The apparent indiscipline in Washington and Brussels will frustrate British officials, who have urged a united front among Western leaders in the aftermath of the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia. The assault has plunged relations between London and Moscow to their worst level in a generation.