Countries such as Canada, Germany, United States of America and France have supported the United Kingdom’s assessment that the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia were done by Russian military officers. Skripal is a former Russian military intelligence officer who worked for the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) and is believed to have blown the cover of around 300 Russian spies. The poisoning took place in Salisbury in early March this year, and Russia has continued to deny any involvement. The poisoning is believed to have been carried out by Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, two Russian Intelligence Officers (although its widely believed that they were fake names). As the Novichok nerve agent has killed a woman and poisoned several people, the pair is facing charges of murder and attempted murder.
Continuing the international condemnation these countries are calling to prosecute the two individuals believed to be responsible. Nikki Haley, US Ambassador to the United Nations, has expressed a strong desire to help ‘our British friends’ and calls for justice. Ben Wallace, British Security Minister, has taken a step further and blamed Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin for the poisoning. The reasoning being that Putin is ultimately behind the GRU-Main Intelligence Directorate, and would have the power to carry out such an operation. Nonetheless, Britain prepares for the worst, with the intelligence arm GCHQ launching a ‘full range of tools’ to protect themselves, according to the respective director.
This attack resulted in countries, such as Australia, expelling Russian diplomats. The Russian Federation responded, expelling diplomats from Moscow. Since then, Russian relations with the West has continued to be a hotly contested issue. Novichok is believed to have origins in the Soviet Union and was developed by Russian scientists between the years of 1971 and 1993. Believed by many to be among the deadliest of poisons, there much research that has yet to be conducted about this agent. Its effects on the environment and people who interact with it have yet to be established. This has created fear and dread in not only Salisbury but also the wider Western Europe.
More investigation and detail must be carried out against this agent to ensure that other people remain safe from its effects. The Russian Federation must also cooperate with the United Kingdom and other enquiring countries, and answer questions truthfully. The nerve agent must be treated as a biochemical weapon. Russia must make it clear that they do not intend to use such a deadly weapon that has caused the death of Dawn Sturgess, an innocent.
However, cooperation is not Russia’s strategy. They will continue to avoid consequences for their actions, and meanwhile, deadly agents such as Novichok could possibly be used again.