Brac­ing for poi­son show­down

Herald Sun - - WORLD -

BRI­TAIN is brac­ing for a show­down with Rus­sia af­ter a mid­night dead­line set by Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May ex­pired with­out an ex­pla­na­tion from Moscow about how a Soviet-era nerve toxin was used to strike down a former Rus­sian dou­ble agent.

The United States, the Euro­pean Union and NATO sup­ported Bri­tain af­ter Mrs May said it was “highly likely” that Rus­sia was be­hind the poi­son­ing of Sergei Skri­pal, 66, and his daugh­ter Yu­lia, 33, in Sal­is­bury on March 4 with Novi­chok, a nerve agent de­vel­oped by the Soviet mil­i­tary.

Rus­sia, which de­nied any in­volve­ment, said it was not re­spond­ing to Mrs May’s ul­ti­ma­tum un­til it re­ceived sam­ples of the nerve agent, ef­fec­tively chal­leng­ing Bri­tain to show what sanc­tions it would im­pose.

“Any threat to take puni­tive mea­sures against Rus­sia will meet with a re­sponse,” Rus­sia’s em­bassy in Lon­don said.

Bri­tain could call on West­ern al­lies for a co-or­di­nated re­sponse, freeze the as­sets of Rus­sian busi­ness lead­ers and of­fi­cials, limit their ac­cess to Lon­don’s fi­nan­cial cen­tre, ex­pel diplo­mats and even launch cy­ber at­tacks.

It may also cut back par­tic­i­pa­tion in the soc­cer World Cup, which Rus­sia is host­ing in June and July.

Sergei Skri­pal

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