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Thursday, February 15, 2024

Who poisoned the Russian spy?

News Analysis |

Russian diplomats have left the United Kingdom after they were ordered to leave following the poisoning of a former Russian spy. The UK is holding Russia responsible.

Sergei Skripal was found perched on a bench along with his daughter near a shopping mall in the British town of Salisbury over a week ago. A doctor who was one of the first people on the scene described Ms. Skripal’s condition as vomiting after having lost control of her body. A nerve agent was declared to be the cause of this condition. Both Skripal and his daughter are in hospital in a critical condition.

Read more: Spy Wars: Russian diplomats expelled from UK

The UK was quick to blame Russia for the attempted assassination. Boris Johnson, the British Foreign Secretary, referred to Russia as a ‘malign and disruptive’ force. The Prime Minister of Britain said that her government will respond appropriately.  “It is now clear that Mr. Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia”, Theresa May said. May also added, “Either this was a direct act by the Russian state against our country. Or the Russian government lost control of this potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others.”

Police Officers say the investigation into the nerve attack could take all of the summer

The Russian Federation was given a ‘deadline’ of sorts to come up with an explanation for the attack, after which 23 Russian diplomats were expelled from the United Kingdom. But was Russia really behind the attack?

Ready, set, blame game!

Furthermore, the counter-terrorism chief of Scotland Yard has also said that the culprits behind the attempted murder will be found. This raises the question: if the culprits are yet to be found, why were Russian diplomats expelled? If the investigation is not complete, how come to London blamed Moscow and has already taken retaliatory measures for the poisoning? Police are still yet to determine how exactly the poison was administered.

Sergei Skripal used to be a military intelligence officer in Russia. He retired after reaching the rank of Colonel. In 2010, he came to the United Kingdom after a spy swap. 10 other agents Russian agents in American and British captivity were exchanged for Skripal. In Russia, he had been convicted of treason. Reportedly, he had been revealing the identities of Russian spies to the MI6, the Foreign Intelligence Agency of the United Kingdom. Why would Russia want to assassinate him now? After 8 years? What Russian interests will be served if Skripal were dead?

Read more: Attempted Spy Assassination in UK: Is Russia responsible?

At the United Nations, Moscow was again accused of the attempted assassination of the former double agent. At the UN Security Council, Britain’s deputy ambassador at the UN, Jonathan Allen accused Russia of breaking its obligations under the Convention on Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. While the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said her country stood in ‘absolute solidarity’ with the United Kingdom. The use of nerve agents is prohibited under the Convention for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The Convention came into force in April 1997 and aims to eliminate weapons of mass destruction by prohibiting the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention, transfer or use of chemical weapons by state parties. Nerve agents are chemicals that inhibit the functioning of the nervous system. A few well-known agents are VX and Sarin, which has been used against civilians in Syria.

The Foreign Minister of Russia is calling the accusations by UK merely an “anti-Russia propaganda”

In response to British statements at the UNSC, the Russian ambassador to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya, said,”We do not speak the language of ultimatums. We do not use that language with anyone. And we will not allow to be spoken to in that language either.” The Russian foreign minister has also said that Moscow would cooperate under the terms and conditions of the Convention on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, according to which, there is 10-day response time for such incidents. Deadlines given by one country to another are not covered by the Convention.

Read more: Indian Spy Drone Shot Down: ISPR

All these questions have not been answered to the satisfaction of the public by British authorities. Meanwhile, Russia has also expelled 23 British diplomats as the crisis worsens. The Foreign Office in Britain has warned citizens traveling to Russia of ‘anti-British sentiment’ and checks have been increased on flights between the two countries.