With the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury last week, and British Prime Minister May stating that it was “highly likely that Russia was responsible”, relations between Russia and the UK reached a new low. Britain expelled 23 Russian diplomats and before that Russia had threatened the UK with retaliatory and dire moves if London would point a finger at Moscow, which is what happened on March 14.
Skripal is not the first Russian attacked on British soil of course. To name just a few of the more high-profile cases, Putin opponents Alexander Litvinenko and Boris Berezovsky were both killed in unclear circumstances, but with a lot of signs pointing to Moscow. And in the case of Sergei Skripal, the poison (a military-grade nerve agent called Novichok) used was of old Soviet stock produced in the 1970’s and 1980’s.
In fact there are more spies London now than during the Cold War according to a former employee of the GCHQ and with the city teeming with Russians, both friends and adversaries and opponents to Putin’s regime (with many of the dissidents having received political asylum in the UK), there is a clear interest from Moscow to keep tabs on people. With the killings of Litvinenko and Berezovsky and most lately with the mysterious death of Nikolai Glushkov in London, it seems London will be forced to re-think its policy towards Russian operations on its home-soil. May’s decision to expel Russian diplomats is possibly a first step in that direction.