Vladimir Putin in Serbia
Credit: iStock

The Kremlin appears to have struck again, this time using a nerve agent in an attempted murder of a former Russian intelligence officer.

The former Russian spy Sergei Skripal was deliberately poisoned with a nerve agent in a case that is now being treated as attempted murder, the police counter-terrorism chief has said.

Scotland Yard assistant chief commissioner Mark Rowley said the police officer who was first to the spot where Skripal was found in Salisbury on Sunday afternoon was “seriously ill” in hospital. His condition had deteriorated, Rowley said, adding: “Wiltshire police are providing full support to his family.”

Describing the poisoning of Skripal and his daughter Yulia, as a major incident, Rowley said scientists had identified the substance used. He refused to reveal what the specific poison was.

All three were suffering from “exposure to a nerve agent”. Detectives now believed that Sergei and Yulia Skripal were specifically targeted, he added, in a deliberate act. They remain critically ill in hospital.

Although further details are awaited, the suspicion in Downing Street will be that the Kremlin has attempted another brazen assassination operation on British soil.

Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin struts around like he has no responsibility for this crime and praises Trump while criticizing the people who are investigating his role in getting Trump elected.

I’m already seeing some people express doubt that Russia would be motivated to attack this man. Let’s look at who he is.

Colonel Skripal, a retired Russian military intelligence officer, was jailed for 13 years by Russia in 2006.
He was convicted of passing the identities of Russian intelligence agents working undercover in Europe to the UK’s Secret Intelligence Service, MI6.

In July 2010, he was one of four prisoners released by Moscow in exchange for 10 Russian spies arrested by the FBI.

After a Cold War-style spy swap at Austria’s Vienna airport, Col Skripal moved to Salisbury, where he kept a low profile for eight years.

Also, let’s not forget his children. His daughter was also exposed to this nerve agent, and his son is already dead.

Ms Skripal lives in Moscow and has visited her father in the UK regularly, especially during the past two years.

Family and friends say she did move to the UK but missed Russia so returned to Moscow where she has worked for multinationals, including Nike and PepsiCo.

It is thought her latest visit to the UK may have been timed to coincide with her late brother’s birthday.
Alexander Skripal died aged 43 last July in St Petersburg from liver failure in what relatives believe to have been suspicious circumstances.

The Russians believe in deterrence, and intelligence officers who cross over and spy for their enemies aren’t ever going to feel safe walking down the street in London or Washington, D.C. They’ll never have comfort that their children are safe, especially if they’re still living in Russia.

There will be an investigation and it may drag on or even be inconclusive. But there’s absolutely no reason to doubt that Putin would order something like this. He’s done it before and he’ll continue to do it.

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Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at ProgressPond.com