Theresa May met with her national security team on Wednesday regarding the attempted assassination of a former Russian spy under British protection on British soil and Russia’s failure to comply with a midnight deadline in providing answers about their involvement.
The result of that meeting is a new set of reprisals, which she announced to parliament this afternoon.
To start, 23 Russian diplomats have been expelled, having been :identified as undeclared intelligence officers,” in what May characterized as the “single biggest expulsion for over 30 years”. The diplomats have one week to get gone. Other reprisals include the British government boycotting the World Cup – “there will be no attendance by ministers – or indeed members of the royal family – at this summer’s World Cup in Russia,” she stated – and a freezing of assets – “We will freeze Russian state assets wherever we have the evidence that they may be used to threaten the life or property of UK nationals or residents” – in addition to a promise of drafting new legislation.
From the BBC, her speech. I’ve highlighted a portion below.
Based on this capability, combined with their record of conducting state sponsored assassinations, including against former intelligence officers whom they regard as legitimate targets, the U.K government concluded that it was highly likely that Russia was responsible for this reckless and despicable act, and there were only two plausible explanations. Either this was a direct act by the Russia state against our country, or conceivably the Russian government could have lost control of a military grade nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others.
Mr. Speaker it was right to offer Russia the opportunity to provide an explanation. But their response had demonstrated complete disdain for the gravity of these events. They have provided no credible explanation that could suggest they lost control of their nerve agent. No explanation as to how this agent came to be used in the United Kingdom; no explanation as to why Russia has an undeclared chemical weapons program in contravention of international law. Instead they have treated the use of a military grade nerve agent in Europe with sarcasm, contempt and defiance.
So Mr Speaker, there is no alternative conclusion other than that the Russian State was culpable for the attempted murder of Mr Skripal and his daughter – and for threatening the lives of other British citizens in Salisbury, including Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey.
This is escalation and it’s consequential. They are officially blaming the Russian government (Putin) for what amounts to a criminal or terroristic act on British soil. The United Nations security council will be holding an emergency meeting today at the Prime Minister’s request. Russia is promising to retaliate.
And of course, here in the United States, we wait to see what President Trump will do. As Patterico says, it’s all eyes on him.