British officials to deliberate Russian response to accusation of ex-spy nerve attack

British officials to deliberate Russian response to accusation of ex-spy nerve attack

Today, Britain’s National Security Council will convene to negotiate a response to Russia’s backlash against British accusations regarding the March

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Photo: Getty

Today, Britain’s National Security Council will convene to negotiate a response to Russia’s backlash against British accusations regarding the March 4 nerve agent attack against Sergei Skripal, a former Russian informant for Britain. Prime Minister Theresa May had given Moscow until yesterday to take responsibility for the attack, to which Russian officials denied culpability and expressed its intention to retaliate to any British sanctions, especially against Russian media broadcasted in the UK, with its own measures.

These developments come five days before President Vladimir Putin’s largely uncontested re-election and put into question what would motivate Russia to plant such an affront. Aggravating Britain could be seen as a display of Russia’s capability to reveal Western vulnerability and highlight resurging strength under Putin’s leadership; the attack could also be regarded as a foolish oversight leading to potential and alienating consequences in the form of intensified Western sanctions.

Especially given the wavering confidence in British leadership, expect Ms May and the National Security Council to try reinforcing Britain’s strength by enacting firm but cautious penalties towards Russia. Extreme sanctions in media restriction or Russian expat expulsion would be detrimental to Britain’s teetering reputation.