British Prime minister Theresa May announced on Wednesday that as a fall out of the nerve toxin attack on a Russian former double agent in southern England, 23 Russian diplomats would be expelled from the U.K.
Britain would reduce its attendance at the soccer World Cup to be held in Russia this summer, whenever there would be evidence of a threat from Russia its assets would be frozen and new measures would be taken to prepare Britain against hostile state activities would be introduced, said Ms. May.
Britain should expect similar retaliation for its actions, said Russia while denying any role in the nerve agent attack.
Discovered unconscious on a bench in the city of Salisbury on March 4 were former spy, Sergei Skripal (66); and his daughter, Yulia (33). Both are in a critical condition in hospital. The condition of the police officer also injured in the attack is also critical.
Novichok, a military grade nerve agent developed during the Soviet-era was used for the attack on the Skripals, Ms. May has said. Moscow has been asked to check whether it has lost control over the stock of the highly dangerous substance and whether it was behind the attack, Ms May said.
“Their response demonstrated complete disdain for the gravity of these events,” Ms. May said in a statement to Parliament.
“They have treated the use of a military grade nerve agent in Europe with sarcasm, contempt and defiance. There is no alternative conclusion, other than that the Russian state was culpable for the attempted murder of Mr. Skripal and his daughter, and for threatening the lives of other British citizens in Salisbury, including Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey. This represents an unlawful use of force by the Russian state against the United Kingdom,” she said.
The capabilities of Russian intelligence in Britain would get degraded by the single biggest expulsion of Russian diplomats from the U.K. in 30 years, Ms. May said. The expelled diplomats have been identified to undeclared Russian intelligence officers.
“We will freeze Russian state assets wherever we have the evidence that they may be used to threaten the life or property of UK nationals or residents,” she said.
For the purpose of countering any threat from a hostile state, U.K. would introduce new legislative proposals soon. “This will include the addition of a targeted power to detain those suspected of hostile state activity at the UK border,” she said.
Enhanced monitoring and tracking of those people who have the intent to travel to the U.K. would be done for the time being with the existing powers by the relevant authorities. s
The authorities would make use of the existing powers to enhance efforts to monitor and track the intentions of those travelling to the U.K., who could be engaged in activities that represented a security threat. “We will increase checks on private flights, customs and freight,” she said.
Ms. May also threatened action against those she described as ”serious criminals and corrupt elites,” adding: “There is no place for these people, or their money, in our country.”
(Adapted from TheHindu.com)