If Russia is behind the ‘poisoning’ of Sergei Skripal, a hawkish response will get us nowhere
Let’s say hard evidence emerges that Russia was in fact responsible for the suspected attack on Sergei Skripal, the former Russian military intelligence officer who spied for MI6, and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury. Comparisons have inevitably been drawn with Alexander Litvinenko, the Russian dissident and former intelligence officer poisoned by a dose of radioactive polonium-210 in London – an operation British intelligence quickly became convinced had been planned in the Kremlin.
In 2010, Skripal was swapped in an exchange for 10 Russian spies being held in the US. But Russian intelligence officers can be unforgiving. And if they were responsible for the attack on Skripal, they could well have had a nod and a wink from Putin himself. A public inquiry into Litvinenko’s murder concluded in 2016, a full 10 years after the event, that there was a “strong probability” that the Russian security service the FSB was responsible for Litvinenko’s fatal poisoning, and that Putin “probably” approved it. The Russian ambassador was summoned to the Foreign Office, and the assets of the two main suspects, Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun, were frozen. Litvinenko’s widow, Marina, chided the British government for not doing more.
The former head of MI6 said ‘Engaging with the Russians was not being nice with them, but being tough’
Link : Britain would not win a spy showdown with Putin | Richard Norton-Taylor