…As Peru’s president offers resignation ahead of impeachment vote***
Britain will encourage European leaders to expel Russian intelligence agents from their own countries in a bid to dismantle the Kremlin’s networks across Europe, warning that the west faces a long-term threat from Vladimir Putin.
Theresa May will ask European leaders to examine Britain’s response to the use of a nerve agent against a Russian double agent and his daughter in Salisbury and step up their own measures when they meet in Brussels on Thursday.
The prime minister will brief leaders over dinner at the European council summit, where she will stress a pattern of aggressive Russian behaviour. “The challenge of Russia is one that will endure for years to come,” she will say. “As a European democracy, the UK will stand shoulder to shoulder with the EU and Nato to face these threats together. United, we will succeed.”
It is understood conversations over the coming weeks will include the UK making the case that countries should take similar action to expel Russian diplomats believed to be undisclosed intelligence agents, after the UK expelled 23 this week. Downing Street believes the expulsions have now severely limited Russia’s intelligence capacity and is understood to be considering further expulsions if further undisclosed intelligence agents are discovered.
A senior Whitehall official said that Russia “has shown itself to be a strategic enemy, not a strategic partner”, pointing to a pattern of behaviour including cyber-attacks on countries including Germany, the US and Denmark and aggression in Syria and Ukraine.
However, emphasis is being placed by the official on curbing the Kremlin’s capacity to do harm, rather than escalating conflict. “It’s not that we are looking for some big confrontation with Russia, or that this is about ultimately regime change,” the official said.
Meanwhile, Peru’s President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski announced he had submitted his resignation to the country’s Congress on Wednesday after vote-buying allegations ensnared his center-right government on the eve of an impeachment vote.
The 79-year-old former Wall Street banker promised an orderly and constitutional transition to power and denied the opposition’s allegations that he was corrupt.
It was unclear whether the opposition-controlled Congress would accept his resignation or move forward with its plan to vote on immediately forcing him from office on Thursday on grounds he is “morally unfit” to govern.
The political drama threatens to thrust the country into a period of political instability just three weeks before U.S. President Donald Trump’s scheduled visit to Peru for a regional summit.
President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski offered his resignation to Peru’s congress after videos emerged showing the president’s allies discussing state contracts as political payback for an opposition lawmaker who could vote to block his impeachment.
Impeachment proceedings began after documents showed Kuczynski’s private consulting firm received $782,000 in payments from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht more than a decade ago. Some of those payments overlap with his years as a government minister.
Guardian UK with additional report from NBC