The latest White House non-reaction to a Russian act of chemical warfare against the citizens of one of our closet allies is, at least at this point, conspicuous silence. In today’s press conference White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was specifically asked about the United Kingdom’s assertion that the exposure of up to 500 people to a Russian-developed nerve agent in the apparent attempt to silence a former Russian spy was “highly likely” to be the work of the Russian government. She declined to make that connection.
“The use of a highly lethal nerve agent against UK citizens on UK soil is an outrage,” Sanders said in response to a question about the attack and Russia’s role. “The attack was reckless, indiscriminate, and irresponsible. We offer the fullest condemnation.”
The journalist them pressed her, asking if this meant the US was not pointing the finger at Russia.
“Right now, we are standing with our UK ally,” Sanders said. “I think they’re still working through even some of the details of that, and we’re going to continue to work with the UK.”
Indeed, Sanders would not say the word Russia at all during her responses.
The United States would, in normal times, be working closely with its ally in their attempts to respond to the attack. The White House’s refusal to back up the British prime minister is, even for this administration, remarkable.