President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May walk along the colonnades of the White House in Washington, Friday, Jan. 27, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Midnight came and went and Russia failed to provide the answers that U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May demanded in the very serious and escalating incident involving the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy living in Britain under British protection.
May will be meeting with her national security council on Wednesday to decide on a course of action and “reprisals” against Russia.
President Trump, despite reports or expectations to the contrary, offered his full support and the support of the United States in Britain’s stand against Russian interference. On Wednesday, May will outline new measures against Russia following their complete disregard of that midnight deadline, and has an international coalition to back her up, – one that includes the United States.
From the Guardian:
The prime minister is preparing to set out a range of reprisals against the Russian state, including calls for fresh sanctions, visa bans and crackdowns on Russian money in the UK. She is expected to set out plans to build a coalition of international support – from the European Union, Nato and even the United Nations – to rein in Russia over time.
Earlier on Tuesday Donald Trump, gave May his full support for her strategy of confronting Russia over the poisoning of double agent Sergei Skripal, saying he is “with the UK all the way”.
The US president’s backing came in a phone call after he had said that it was conditional on the facts supporting the British prime minister’s case. Downing Street said Trump had agreed that “the Russian government must provide unambiguous answers as to how this nerve agent came to be used”.
To be clear, “must provide unambiguous answers” is precisely the level of pushback required, and matches the Prime Minister’s tone and demands. Although CNN continues to present that as a wishy-washy statement, it is the correct one. It is not for us to escalate, but to follow May’s lead, and that is exactly what we have done.
May is weighing a very hard line here, and rightly so. What has occurred, whether Russia admits it or not, is that they violated British sovereignty and using a nerve agent attacked Sergei Skripal, a man officially protected by the British government. That is an extremely serious thing.
Russia, despite the last two years of debate from a certain political movement in the United States, are the bad guys, and they do bad things.
The Express lists some of the options on the table:
Britain’s options are being weighed up by Government with a cyber counter-strike said to be among the possible measures being considered, along with economic, financial and diplomatic action.
A mass expulsion of Russian officials and diplomatic staff is widely expected among security experts and MPs.
Other options include a resolution at the United Nations Security Council and an immediate call for the nerve agent used in the attack to be classified as a Category 1 chemical weapon.
Mrs May is expected to try to bring together a coalition of international support – from the European Union, Nato and United Nations – to rein in Russia over time.
Russia remained intractable leading up to the deadline.
In a series of tweets, the Russian Embassy in London said: “Moscow will not respond to London’s ultimatum until it receives samples of the chemical substance to which the UK investigators are referring.
“The incident appears to be yet another crooked attempt by the UK authorities to discredit Russia.”
The embassy said those calling for the expulsion of Russian diplomats “don’t care about Global Britain and its diplomats in Moscow”.
They are also planning their own retaliations.
In Moscow, the Russian foreign ministry summoned the British ambassador, Laurie Bristow, and warned that “actions by the British authorities are openly provocative”.
“Any threats of sanction measures against Russia will not be left without a response,” the ministry said.
Russia said there would be reprisals for any move to close the UK-based Russia Today news channel, a measure that May might ask the broadcasting regulator, Ofcom, to consider as one of her measures.
“Not a single British media outlet will work in our country if they close Russia Today,” said Zakharova.
Once again, Russia proves to be a bad actor on the international stage. Their interference, and the retaliations and responses, are only going to escalate.