EU leaders to discuss Russian attack on UK next week -Tusk

HELSINKI, March 14 (Reuters) - European Union leaders will discuss the poisoning of a former Russian double agent in Britain, the chairman of EU leaders Donald Tusk said on Wednesday.

“I express my full solidarity with Prime Minister Theresa May in the face of the brutal attack inspired, most likely, by Moscow,” Tusk told a news conference in Helsinki.

“I’m ready to put the issue on next week’s European Council agenda,” he said.

Asked what measures the EU might take against Russia, he said the EU would wait until Britain itself proposed actions before deciding on a common approach.

Britain is braced for a showdown with Russia after a midnight deadline set by May expired without an explanation from Moscow about how a Soviet-era nerve toxin was used to strike down Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the southern English city of Salisbury on March 4.

Tusk, a former Polish prime minister, also criticised U.S. President Donald Trump’s moves to what Tusk called a “trade war” and said Russian interference in Western countries showed the need for more, not less, Transatlantic cooperation.

“There is no need to explain the significance of close cooperation between Europeans and Americans at a time when someone on the outside spreads fake news, meddles in our elections and attacks people on our soil with the use of a nerve agent,” he said. “There must not be Transatlantic bickering but Transatlantic unity.” (Reporting By Jan Strupczewski and Alissa de Carbonnel in Brussels Editing by Alastair Macdonald)