If you are an avid spy-flick enthusiast, then you know what a country does to a spy who betrays it. On March 4, Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious on a bench in Salisbury, Southwest England. A probe into the incident revealed that the spy and his daughter were poisoned with a Soviet-era nerve toxin Novichok, which is a nerve agent developed by the Soviet military. Since no other country has any access to the chemical, Russia became a natural suspect in the case. British Prime Minister Theresa May reacted strongly on the incident and served an ultimatum on Russia on Tuesday seeking an explanation by the end of the day.
British PM Theresa May was joined by US President Donald Trump who supported her ultimatum. As per media reports, Trump telephoned May and extended his support. In a statement, the White House questioned as to how this chemical weapon, developed in Russia, came to be used in the United Kingdom and asked Russia to provide unambiguous answers.
However, the day has passed and Russia hasn’t offered any clarification on the matter. Media reports quoted the Russian embassy in London as saying: “Moscow will not respond to London’s ultimatum until it receives samples of the chemical substance.” Now, Britain is said to be considering punitive action against Russia over the matter. This may include freezing assets of Russian business leaders and officials, limiting their access to London’s financial centre, expelling diplomats and even launching targeted cyber attacks. Some media reports suggested that Britain may even consider not participating in the soccer World Cup, which will be hosted by Russia later this year. Responding to such speculations, the Russian Embassy said that any threat to take punitive measures against Russia will meet with a response.
Notably, this isn’t the first such incident. Earlier, Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian spy; Alexander Perepilichnyy, a Russian businessmen; and Boris Berezovsky, an exiled Russian billionaire, were found dead in suspicious circumstances. All the three were in Britain when they died.
Sergei was a part of the Russian army’s intelligence wing until 1999 after which he was shifted to work for the Russian foreign ministry where he worked until 2003 before getting arrested by the Russians for handing over 20,000 pages of secret documents to London. Sergei was later released under a spy swap deal in 2010 after which he took refuge in Britain.