When former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter became severely ill in London over the weekend, no one knew for sure what caused their sickness. Now British police say that Skripal was deliberately poisoned with a nerve agent. The question that the police still haven’t answered: Who did it?
Both Sergei and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious on a bench in Salisbury on Sunday and are in critical condition, while the first police officer to respond to the scene is listed as “seriously ill“. British officials insist that it’s too early to point the finger at Russian intelligence services operating inside the UK, but they seem to be the most likely culprit for a number of reasons.
Skripal was imprisoned by the Kremlin in 2006 before being released to the UK in 2010 during a prisoner exchange with Russian spies who were caught in the US. Skripal, a Russian national and former colonel, was spying for the British. Skripal’s older brother died in Russia two years ago and his 43-year-old son died just last year. Family members believe that both deaths were suspicious.
The Kremlin has previously used poisoning as a favourite tactic to exact revenge on traitors, journalists and even run-of-the-mill political opponents. But Russia denies having any involvement in the recent poisoning of Skripal and his daughter.
“The western media jumped on the incident with Skripal to fuel the anti-Russian campaign,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said at a press conference today according to the Russian news agency TASS. “The situation has not become clear yet but the usual theories have already gained momentum.”
Echoing US President Donald Trump, the Russian Foreign Ministry literally called any accusations of Russian involvement “fake news”.
“These fake news stories are aimed at complicating Russia-UK relations, it is impossible to see any other reason behind them,” Zakharova continued.
The British government has been cautious about blaming Russia for the poisoning, but says that the poisoning will be met with an appropriate response.
“Honourable members will note the echoes of the death of Alexander Litvinenko in 2006,” said Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson earlier this week in the House of Commons, careful not to rile tensions with Russia before all of the facts are out.
“I say to governments around the world that no attempt to take innocent life on UK soil will go unsanctioned or unpunished.”