by Graham Pierrepoint
The recent fallout from accusations aimed at Russia over whether or not an ex-spy and his daughter were in Salisbury, UK, has been nothing short of phenomenal. As investigations have persisted into whether or not Vladimir Putin’s agencies were responsible for the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, one major issue has hung over proceedings like a cloud – and that’s whether or not the UK has had enough evidence to point the finger at the Kremlin. It’s emerged this week that scientists in the UK at Porton Down have advised that they had not been able to ‘identify the precise source’ of the poison’s manufacture – which comes after moves were made to expel Russian diplomats from the capital, to which other countries around the world followed suit. Russia has responded, generally, by warning the UK against taking such measures. Some have even warned that the move to expel Russian agents could lead to a situation greater than that of the Cold War – and as news emerges that Porton Down doesn’t know for sure whether or not Russia were involved in the poisoning, one member of the British cabinet is coming under particular scrutiny.
Boris Johnson – Foreign Secretary – is reportedly in hot water after it emerged that the Foreign Office had deleted a tweet from its official Twitter feed which appeared to accuse Russia of initiating the attack. Johnson had also reportedly suggested that the nerve agent used to poison the Skripals had originated in Russia – on an ‘absolutely categorical’ basis. This has led to a ▶ back-and-forth between the cabinet minister and opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, who had previously stated that there was no evidence to suggest that any action should have been taken against Russia. However, action was taken – and at the time of writing, the British press appears to be calling for Johnson to answer some serious questions.
Watch: ▶ Ex-spy poisoning: Russian ambassador brands Boris Johnson claims 'unacceptable'
The Skripal scandal is a strange one which doesn’t really have much of a precedent – but in taking action against Russia before evidence has been fully collated, many are arguing that the UK has damaged relations between themselves and the Kremlin. Was Theresa May right to expel diplomats? Is there any truth to the accusations facing Russia? What will happen from now – are we heading into a new Cold War? These are all very big questions – and scary ones – indeed.
Watch: ▶ Russia Calls UN Security Council Over Poisoning Doubts