NATO Demands Russia's 'Complete Disclosure' of Novichok Program to OPCW

NATO's secretary-general has demanded that Moscow cooperate with the international chemical weapons watchdog in an investigation into the Novichok poisoning of Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny.

Following a meeting of the alliance on Friday, Jens Stoltenberg said that there was "proof beyond doubt" that Navalny had been targeted by "a military-grade nerve agent" from the Novichok group.

Navalny lies in a coma in the Charite hospital in Berlin, where he was evacuated from the Siberian city of Omsk after he fell ill on a flight last month.

The German government said on Wednesday there was "unequivocal evidence" that Navalny had been poisoned by Novichok, a nerve agent which had also been used in an attack in Salisbury, England, on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in 2018.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny in Moscow on September 29, 2019. Nato has called for Russia to co-operate with a probe into his Novichok poisoning. YURI KADOBNOV/Getty Images

Stoltenberg described the use of such a weapon as "horrific" and added all members of the alliance condemned the attack.

"Any use of chemical weapons shows a total disrespect for human lives, and is an unacceptable breach of international norms and rules. NATO allies agree that Russia now has serious questions it must answer," he said.

"The Russian government must fully cooperate with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons on an impartial, international investigation. Those responsible for this attack must be held accountable and brought to justice.

"We also call on Russia to provide complete disclosure of the Novichok program to the OPCW," he added.

With pressure growing on Moscow, a group of 100 MEPs penned a letter appealing to the EU on Friday to push for a probe into the poisoning, with the co-operation of the OCPW. "We cannot stand by and watch while opposition in Russia is systematically subjected to poison attacks," the letter said.

The Kremlin denies there is any evidence that Navalny was poisoned and insisted that Germany is yet to provide proof.

On Friday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said doctors at the Omsk hospital where Alexei Navalny had been initially treated had been much more open about his condition than the German hospital where he is now.

"Our doctors behaved much more transparently with regard to informing both journalists and everyone interested in what the German colleagues are doing," he said, according to Tass.

"If there is confirmation of information about the presence of any toxic substances in the patient's biological samples, then, of course, there is no doubt, that a de jure opening of the investigation will follow," the Kremlin spokesman added.