Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Another Former Russian Intelligence Officer Poisoned in the UK (7)

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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PM May stated today that the attack was conducted using a military grade agent of Russian origin, and that  “Either this was a direct act by the Russian state against our country, or the Russian government lost control of its potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others.”

Whether the Russian government conducted the attack, or was negligent in securing the agent, or exported the agent, Russia is liable and responsible.

Russia deployed Kiselyov yesterday to blame the attack on the UK, the claimed intent being to “Nourish Russophobia”. Given Russia’s conduct since 2014, nobody can compete with the Putin regime in the game of producing “Russophobia”.

The open question now is whether HM Govt will take appropriate punitive measures or not.

Good analyses by Lough and Sherr @Chatham, Eidman, and Wintour lists ten possible measures, but does not detail measures outside the UK. Again very interesting editorials, commentaries and backfill reports.

Highly likely Russia behind spy attack, says Theresa May – BBC News

The poison used was a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia, says Theresa May.

Theresa May publicly blames Russia for nerve agent attack on ex-spy Sergei Skripal as relations with Moscow plummet – Mirror Online

The Prime Minister formally pointed the finger at Russia for the first time – saying it was “highly likely” Moscow was behind the attack on ex-spy Sergei Skripal

Theresa May has accused Russia of being behind the attempted assassination of a double agent in the UK | Business Insider

Britain has formally accused Russia of being behind the attempted assassination of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter with nerve agent on its territory. Prime Minister Theresa May pointed the finger at Russia in a statement to Parliament on Monday afternoon, in which she said Russia either ordered the attack or lost control of whoever carried it out. She said: “Based on Russia’s record of doing state-sponsored assassinations and our assessment that Russia views some defectors as legitimate targets for assassinations, the government has concluded that it is highly likely that Russia was responsible for the act against Sergei and Yulia Skripal. “Either this was a direct act by the Russian state against our country, or the Russian government lost control of its potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others.” It came after a National Security Council meeting, where she took evidence from the UK’s three intelligence agencies MI5, MI6, and GCHQ. May gave Russia a deadline of Wednesday by which to respond to her statement. She said if they do not, she will conclude that the attack was an “unlawful use of force” by Russia against the UK. Skripal and his daughter Yulia collapsed in a shopping centre in Salisbury on March 4 after being poisoned with nerve agent. They remain in critical condition. Skripal was convicted of passing Russian state secrets to British intelligence in the 1990s and early 2000s. He was pardoned and sent to the UK as part of a spy swap in 2010, in which Russia released four agents to the US and UK in exchange for ten Russian agents in the US. The Kremlin yet to respond to May’s statement. But it has previously downplayed and deflected claims of Russian culpability and attacked media speculation of state involvement.

Russia Likely Responsible For Poisoning Spy, UK Officials Say

British PM Theresa May said Monday that the type of poison used was developed by Russia.

The Latest: UK leader: ‘Highly likely’ Russia behind poison – 3/12/2018 12:18:49 PM | Newser

LONDON (AP) — The Latest on the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in Britain (all times local): 5:10 p.m. British Prime Minister Theresa May says the Russian ex-spy poisoned in England… – 3/12/2018 12:18:49 PM | Newser

UK’s May says ‘highly likely’ Russia responsible for poisoning of ex-spy

British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Monday it was “highly likely” that Moscow was responsible for the poisoning in England of a former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Moscow’s Development of Poisons Like One Used against Skripal has Long History and Dark Shadow

Paul Goble Staunton, March 11 – Feliks Kubin, a Russian who defected to the US in 2013, says that he was approached before that time by FSB counter-intelligence officers who wanted him to help develop fast-acting poisons that Moscow could use against its opponents as it has apparently done now in the Skripal case. Kubin, who now lives in northern California, tells Russian journalist Kseniya Kirillova that he was horrified by the proposal and refused; but it now appears that others were less horrified and agreed, giving the Russian special services yet another weapon for their arsenal ( In her article for the Russian-language Slavic Sacramento news portal, Kirillova says that given this Russian capacity, the most important question is now how Moscow tried to kill Skripal in Britain but rather why it chose this moment to do so. To that end, she cites several former US intelligence officials with whom she spoke. According them, Putin may have given the order to attack Skripal now to send a message to any Russians thinking about cooperating with the Mueller investigation into Russian complicity in the 2016 election in order to escape punishment in the US that Moscow can “reach out and touch someone” regardless of where they live. That is certainly possible, but the Russian move against Skripal has another and even more disturbing consequence: it is frightening many in Europe against cooperating with anyone who may be involved in exposing Putin’s crimes. If Moscow is prepared to try to kill Skripal, such people feel, it might do the same to them. Igor Eidman, a Russian commentator for Deutsche Welle, says that “a German director who made an anti-Putin film complained to [him] that many Germans are now afraid to cooperate with him.” That means, Eidman says, that “the poisoners achieved their goal” ( According to the Russian commentator, “those who attacked Skripal above all wanted to frighten the West” by a display of such audacity that Europeans will now conclude that they are Russia’s “hostages” and cannot either prevent Moscow from organizing more such attacks or saving themselves except by deferring to Putin. Ten days ago, the Kremlin leader sought to frighten the West with his new “super weapons” and his preparedness for nuclear war, Eidman says. Now, he “is frightening it with a mass poisoning in the center of Britain. All these things are links in one chain,” are of his effort to “hit at sanctions with rockets and poisons.” In the short term, Putin’s approach may intimidate, but over the longer run, this policy is “condemned” to failure, Eidman argues. Putin wants the rest of the world to respect and even love Russia, but “you can’t build relations on fear,” the commentator suggests. Sooner or later those you try to intimidate will respond in a far more tough manner than they would have before.

John Lough and James Sherr | The Skripal Attack Is a Test for the UK | Chatham House

Moscow wants to see if the government will be able to muster a strong response to assassination attempts on British soil. There can be little doubt that the Russian government is behind the attempted assassination of double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter. While there were the typical official denials, the Russian state has ways of communicating its innocence to foreign governments. In this case, it has not done so. The use of a nerve agent fits a pattern established by the murder of Alexander Litvinenko with polonium in 2006. This was not a McMafia-style operation commissioned by ‘rogue elements’. If they were to blame, Moscow would be even more alarmed than London. Since the chaos of the 1990s, Putin has restored the state’s traditional prerogatives in foreign covert operations, as well as the president’s prerogatives within it. This was graphically demonstrated in Crimea in early 2014 with the deployment of ‘little green men’. But what could be the motive? The Russians think strategically and will have planned this operation carefully in terms of both its execution and impact. What it says to Russians living in the UK or those thinking of leaving the country is: disloyalty is always punishable, you will never be free of us and you will never be safe, wherever you live. Singling out the reclusive 66-year old Skripal, eight years after he came to the UK and had run out of secrets to tell, simply underlines the point: you do not have to be an arch enemy of the Putin system to be in potential danger, and your family may also be a target. What it says to the British government is: we believe you are weak, and we have no respect for you. In recent years, successive British governments have repeatedly communicated weakness to Russia without any intention of doing so. First, even before the suspicious ‘suicide’ of dissident oligarch Boris Berezovsky in 2013, the UK authorities have been singularly lacklustre in prosecuting a macabre string of suspect deaths of Russian exiles on British soil. Until 2014, the government resisted a public inquiry into the death of Alexander Litvinenko, signalling that it was disinclined to name and shame Russia for fear of harming attempts to rebuild ties. Second, Russia viewed the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) of 2010 as an abdication of Britain’s great power role. The shutting of RAF Kinloss and Lossiemouth – and with that a fair portion of the UK’s maritime reconnaissance and warfare capability in northern waters – was regarded with incredulity. The SDSR’s 2015 successor has repaired much of the damage to UK defence capacities, but this scarcely has registered in Moscow. Third, David Cameron’s government chose to absent itself from the Russia–Ukraine ‘Minsk process’, leaving the running to Paris and Berlin. Given the UK’s prominent role in securing the rights and assurances that underpinned Ukraine’s independence and territorial integrity (including its signature on the 1994 Budapest Memorandum), London effectively communicated to Moscow that Ukraine had become a lesser priority and that Britain had better things to do. Although the UK’s vigorous defence advisory effort has earned plaudits in Kyiv, Russia no longer considers Britain to be a serious player in Ukraine. Fourth, there is Brexit, which many of its supporters believe will strengthen Britain’s global influence. Whatever the merits of that claim, the Russians view Brexit as a case of the UK cutting off its nose to spite its face. From the earliest days of the Cold War, the USSR and its Russian successor viewed Britain as Washington’s number one proxy in Europe. From Moscow’s perspective, the UK’s position at the EU top table enhanced US and British influence simultaneously. That advantage has been thrown away. For these reasons, the Skripal affair is not only a reflection of perceived weakness. It is also a test. If the UK chooses to act toughly, will its allies support it or simply send their best wishes? This latest example of Russian ‘reconnaissance by combat’ puts Britain into a bind.

Putin’s Crimes | Comment | The Times

The regime of Vladimir Putin rigs elections, imprisons dissidents and unilaterally alters the boundaries of Europe by force. It connives at the murder of journalists, the assassination of opponents and the shooting down of civilian aircraft. It also, with impunity, poisons its critics on foreign soi

The world simply shrugs at Russian aggression – CNN

No one is really shocked that suspicion turns to Russia after what British Home Secretary Amber Rudd called a “brazen and reckless act” on UK soil.

U.K.’s Security Council Meeting About Nerve-Agent Attack

Britain’s National Security Council is scheduled to meet on March 12 to discuss the nerve-agent attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter in the city of Salisbury.

May Faces Calls to Retaliate Against Russia After Spy Attack – Bloomberg

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May faces calls to crack down on Russian influence in Britain amid reports that investigators have linked Vladimir Putin’s regime to last week’s poisoning of a former spy in a city southwest of London.

Sergei Skripal: Theresa May set to hit back at Russia over spy attack | News | The Times

Theresa May is on the verge of publicly blaming Russia for the attempted murder of Sergei and Yulia Skripal and ordering expulsions and sanctions against President Putin’s regime.An announcement could come as early as today after a meeting of the government’s National Security Council at which mini

Salisbury spy attack: national security council meets to discuss response | UK news | The Guardian

PM reportedly facing pressure from some ministers to take tougher line with Russia in response to attempted murders in Salisbury

Russian spy: May to meet ministers to discuss evidence – BBC News

Theresa May to chair the National Security Council as hundreds told to wash clothes in case of contamination.

Theresa May ‘in denial’ for not blaming Kremlin for nerve gas attack | Daily Mail Online

The PM will chair a meeting of the National Security Council where she will be updated on the investigation into the attempted nerve agent assassination of the former Russian spy.

Theresa May under pressure to issue strong measures against Russia over poisoning of former spy | The Independent

Theresa May has come under pressure to plan strong retaliation against Russia over the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal, ahead of security talks with the Cabinet and after a fresh warning to people in Salisbury.

Softly-softly isn’t working. Time to play hard with wealthy Russians in UK | Oliver Bullough | Opinion | The Guardian

After the Salisbury poisonings, it’s time to tell Putin’s inner circle that they are no longer welcome here

Calls to boycott the Russia World Cup are gesture politics | Sport | The Times

Watching politicians parade their “tough” credentials towards Russia by calling for the England football team to boycott the World Cup is as vexing as it is symptomatic. It is pure virtue signalling, a sporting fig leaf to distract attention from their failure to get to grips with a rogue regime fo

Boris has the most terrifying sanction in mind for Russia – withdrawing the England football team from the World Cup | The Independent

For a thumbnail guide to the gravity of the Russian spy crisis, consider this. It has made Boris Johnson look a bit muddled. Ordinarily, the Foreign Secretary is the safest imaginable pair of diplomatic hands. Whether reciting colonialist, Buddha-ridiculing poetry in the Buddhist temples of Myanmar, or hinting that British nationals wrongly imprisoned there were up to no good in Iran, no one has a more masterly command of his brief.

Patrick Wintour | 10 possible British responses to Russia over the Sergei Skripal affair | UK news | The Guardian

How could the UK punish Russia effectively? Here is an escalating list of potential measures

Russian spy Skripal attack highlights blurring of lines between the state and freelancers

When Sergei Skripal left Russia in 2010, his fate seemed to have taken a bright turn. As part of a prisoner exchange with Britain and the US, the MI6 double agent swapped a Russian jail cell for suburban life in Wiltshire.

Nerve agent attack on Russian ex-spy Theresa May announcement awaited

The nerve agent attack on the former Russian agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter looks like “state-sponsored attempted murder.”

British scientists have reportedly proved ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ that the nerve agent used on former spy Sergei Skripal came from Russia | Business Insider

The Latest: Interview: Spy would be dead, if Russia wanted – The Washington Post

The Latest on the U.K. investigation into a Russian ex-spy’s poisoning (all times local):

Former KGB agent was warned of attack on Russian spy Sergei Skripal | Daily Mail Online

Boris Karpichkov, said he was on an eight-man hitlist which included Mr Skripal, 66, who was attacked with a nerve agent last week in Salisbury.

Ex-Spies on Sergei Skripal Assassination Attempt: ‘There Is Always a Danger’

The danger depends on certain variables, but it’s clear, present—and could happen here.

Poisoning of Russian spy raises troubling questions – CNN

It’s more than a week in and we still know very little about the poisonings in the cathedral city of Salisbury. Here are four as yet unanswered questions.

Sergei Skripal: Salisbury’s other spy lived in fear of KGB revenge | News | The Times

Even when feeding the swans on the banks of the River Avon or enjoying the peace of Salisbury Cathedral, Vladimir Pasechnik was always afraid.Long before Sergei Skripal was poisoned, another Russian enemy of the state lived and died, invisibly, in Wiltshire. His name has almost faded into obscurity

Sergei Skripal’s betrayer ‘has blood on his hands’ | News | The Times

The man who exposed Sergei Skripal as an MI6 double-agent has been revealed as a Spanish spy who was later jailed for 12 years for handing secrets to the Russians. Roberto Flórez García, 52, became aware that a Russian double agent based in Spain was working for British and Spanish intelligence and

The Quiet English Life of Sergei Skripal, Poisoned Former Russian Spy – WSJ

Sergei Skripal, poisoned last week with his daughter, was a former Russian agent, but residents of Salisbury, England, saw him as thoroughly ordinary.

Sergei Skripal and the long history of assassination attempts abroad

Russia isn’t the only suspect when it comes to the practice known as ‘wetwork’.

Putin’s Russia: From basket case to resurgent superpower – The Washington Post

Vladimir Putin and his Russia look more invincible today than at any other time in his 18 years in power.

Britain Poisoned Double Agent Skripal to ‘Nourish Russophobia’ — Russian State Media

Russian state media pundits have laid the blame on Britain for the poisoning of double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in southern England. Sergei Skripal, a former Russian intelligence officer living in Britain, and his adult daughter, are in critical condition after being exposed to a nerve agent in Salisbury on March 4. British media reported that Prime Minister Theresa May could publicly blame Russia for the Skripals’ poisoning and impose sanctions on Monday.

Russian State TV Accuses Britain of Poisoning Spy in Special Operation | World News | US News

By Andrew Osborn MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian state TV has accused Britain of poisoning former double agent Sergei Skripal in southern England as part of a special operation designed to spoil Russia’s hosting of the soccer World Cup this summer. Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, have been in hospital in a critical condition since March 4 when they were found unconscious on a bench outside a shopping center in the city of Salisbury. Prime Minister Theresa May is due to chair a meeting of Britain’s National Security Council later on Monday to discuss the poisoning. A British lawmaker has said the incident looked like state-sponsored attempted murder and he expected Moscow to be blamed. Russia has repeatedly dismissed suggestions of its involvement as an attempt to demonize it. But its flagship weekly TV news program ‘Vesti Nedeli,’ (News of the week) on the Rossiya 1 channel went much further on Sunday evening and pointed the finger at Britain itself. “They tried to pin the blame on Russia, but if you think it through the poisoning of the GRU (military intelligence) colonel was only advantageous to the British,” Dmitry Kiselyov, the country’s top pro-Kremlin presenter said. “As a source, Skripal was completely wrung out and of little interest. But as a poisoning victim, he is very useful. Why not poison him? It’s no big deal. And with his daughter to make it more heart-wrenching for the public.” Kiselyov, whose broadcast career has been advanced by President Vladimir Putin, said Skripal’s poisoning opened up many “possibilities” for Britain, including organizing an international boycott of the soccer World Championship which Russia is hosting this summer. “An excellent special operation,” said Kiselyov. “Skripal is cheap expendable material,” he said, and after the special operation Russia would then have to “justify itself.” British foreign minister Boris Johnson has said London might have to review the attendance of its official delegation to the competition if it turns out Russia was behind the poisoning.

Russian media points finger at Britain in poisoned spy case – Europe –

‘If you think about it, well, the only ones for whom the poisoning of the ex-GRU colonel is advantageous are the British,’ says Russian media figure

In Russia, suspicions over spy’s poisoning point to Britain – The Washington Post

Since a former Russian double agent and his daughter were poisoned in Britain a week ago, suspicions about Russia’s possible handiwork have run high — except in major Russian news outlets, where fingers point in the other direction.