Christian Chen, Staff Writer
On March 11, Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter were found incapacitated on a park bench in south England, dosed with a military grade Russian nerve agent. British Prime Minister Theresa May has said that Russia is the prime suspect and is urging England to be prepared for more “extensive measures than those used against Russia during disputes in the past.”
Additionally, she believes that the Kremlin is intent on “dismantling the international rules-based order” and must be resisted. However, any British response to the Salisbury attack is unlikely to harm Vladimir Putin’s re-election chances. In fact, Putin himself has stated that he’ll wait until he is elected before answering questions about the event.
Two plausible explanations are either a direct act by the Russians against England, or the Russian government lost control of this potentially catastrophically dangerous nerve agent and let it get into the hands of others. Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova believes Prime Minister May’s speech is a “circus show in the British Parliament.” In addition, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that the U.S. agrees the poisoning was “reckless” and “indiscriminate,” but declined to comment on Russia.
It must also be said that Skripal and his daughter were not the only victims of this nerve agent attack. A British police officer who was the first to arrive on the scene was also taken to a nearby hospital and is currently hospitalized under serious condition. As many as 500 civilians may have been exposed to traces of the nerve gas and were advised to wash their clothes and clean their possessions.
The Salisbury incident is not the only incident involving the murder or attempted murder of an ex-Russian agent. There was also the 2006 death of Alexander Litvinenko, who was poisoned with radioactive polonium 210. A British inquiry found that Russia was primarily responsible for Litvinenko’s murder. In regard to a possible connection between Litvinenko’s murder and the attempted murder of Skripal, former Commissioner Ian Blair said, “It is vital to find out whether there is some pattern here.”
There are some ideas about how to retaliate against Russia in the event that proof is found that Russia is indeed responsible. One is to expel Russian diplomats from the UK and to remove broadcast license of Russia’s English-language TV arm, RT. Other people have thought about preventing sports officials from attending this year’s soccer World Cup in Russia, more European Union-wide sanctions against Russia, and cutting Russian banks off from the Swift bank payment system.
Russia has vehemently disagreed with allegations that the country is responsible for the poisoning. In fact, Russia has stated that it is willing to collaborate with England on an investigation, though it resents the notion that Russia is responsible. Russian diplomat Sergei Lavrov has said that it is “unnecessary to run out on TV with unfounded allegations in order to properly investigate the case.”