Bracing for poison showdown
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.