On 4th March 2018, former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in Salisbury, England, with a Novichok nerve agent. UK Prime Minister Theresa May has accused Russia of the attempted murder, but could her own government be responsible?
Over the last few years, tensions have been rising between Russia and Western states, particularly the US and the UK. A number of events have contributed to these tensions:
- Russian military intervention in Ukraine in 2014
- Russian interference with the 2016 US general election in order to bolster Donald Trump’s campaign and undermine Hillary Clinton’s
- a 2016 ruling that Russian defector Alexander Litvinenko was assassinated on British soil by the Russian government
- Russia’s support for the Syrian government in the Syrian Civil War.
Now that a Russian former spy for the British secret services has been poisoned with a deadly nerve agent on British soil, there can no longer be any doubt. The Second Cold War is in full swing.
But is everything as it seems?
66-year-old Sergei Skripal is a Russian former intelligence officer who betrayed Russia to the British and became a double agent for the UK’s intelligence services during the 90s and 00s. At 16:15 on 4th March, a passing doctor and nurse found him and his 33-year-old daughter, Yulia Skripal, unconscious on a public bench in the centre of Salisbury. An eyewitness saw Yulia foaming at the mouth, eyes wide open, pale as a ghost. The UK government soon announced that the two of them had been poisoned with a nerve agent. For several weeks, Skripal and his daughter remained in a critical condition. By the beginning of April, both were recovering in hospital. (Bugger, thought the assassins.)
On 12th March, UK Prime Minister Theresa May said the nerve agent had been identified as a Novichok agent, developed in the 1980s by the Soviet Union. It’s been speculated that since Yulia Skripal had just flown in from Russia the previous day, the nerve agent was planted in one of the personal items in her suitcase while she was there. US media has speculated that it was planted in their car.
The bigger question is — by who?