Former Russian Spy And Daughter Believed To Have Been Poisoned By Nerve Agent


Although the president continues to deny the significance of the Russia scandal, the fact remains that a generally hostile foreign power sought to influence the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential elections. Underneath all of the partisan bickering, that sobering fact remains.

In connection to that, the fact remains that continued Russian influence operations pose a threat to the rest of the world — including a sometimes lethal one.

Last Sunday, former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious on a bench in the British city of Salisbury. Both Sergei and his daughter remain critically ill, and now, although there’s been plenty of suspicion that Russia was behind the apparent poisoning, there’s a new report out from The Guardian that supports that perspective.

According to the publication, British authorities believe the victims to have been poisoned by a nerve agent, although the exact agent used remains unclear. Nerve agents can’t be obtained by just anyone, as experts speaking to the publication explained, increasing the seemingly near-certain likelihood that a state actor — meaning most likely Russia — was behind the incident.

As former commanding officer at the UK’s chemical, biological and nuclear regiment Hamish de Bretton-Gordon put it:

‘This is pretty significant. Nerve agents such as sarin and VX need to be made in a laboratory. It is not an insufficient task. Not even the so-called Islamic State could do it.’

In the face of the usage of a suspected nerve agent, The Guardian reports that decontamination efforts have been undertaken in areas believed to be possibly affected by the substance. Authorities are also interested in any perspective on the incident that people in the area may have.

Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley of London’s Metropolitan Police eventually confirmed the report from The Guardian on Wednesday, although he did not specify what poison was used against the Skripals. He did confirm, however, that the pair were targeted seemingly deliberately, marking yet another seeming confirmation that the operation was carried out by a competent state actor with a grudge against the Skripals.

Although Skripal formerly worked as a Russian spy, in 1995, he became a double agent and passed information along to British Intelligence Services as well. After being arrested by Russian authorities in 2004, he was sentenced to 14 years in prison but released in 2010 as part of a spy exchange between the Kremlin and the United States, eventually being granted asylum in the U.K.

His poisoning parallels an incident in the United Kingdom more than ten years ago, when Russian agents poisoned Alexander Litvinenko with a radioactive substance. In the years since, other Kremlin opponents have also died under suspicious circumstances, such as opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, who was shot to death in Moscow in 2015.

It’s not as though the U.S. president has taken any seeming strong public stand on the poisoning, which is among the latest incidents of Russian governmental aggression.

In past days, he has stuck to tweeting angrily about the state of American economic policy, tweets that come on the heels of him announcing plans for hefty tariffs on steel and aluminum.

Concurrent to this, it’s not as though he has a history of confronting Russia over its aggression, sometimes refusing to even acknowledge the evidence that Russia interfered in our most recent presidential election.

Featured Image via Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images