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Britain’s National Security Council (NSC) is expected to meet to discuss the latest intelligence on the attempted murder of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.
Meanwhile, there is rising speculation that Theresa May, who is to chair the meeting today, is close to blaming Russia for the nerve agent attack. Multiple media reports have also suggested that the government may resort to a number of retaliatory measures, including diplomatic expulsions and sanctions, should a Russian link be proven.
Former Russian spy Skripal had been granted refuge in the UK in 2010 under a “spy swap” but was found unconscious with his 33-year-old daughter outside a shopping centre in Salisbury last Sunday.
In a related developement, the Chair of the UK’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Tom Tugendhat, told BBC radio that he was expecting May to make an announcement soon. “And frankly, I’d be surprised if she did not point the finger at the Kremlin.”
“The key with responding to Russia is making sure we make Putin realize what we’re doing, and make people who support him realize that supporting him isn’t a great idea,” said Tugendhat, adding: “And that, to be honest, doesn’t mean general sanctions. That means very specific sanctions.”
Tugendhat’s comments follow those of UK Chancellor, Philip Hammond, who on Sunday indicated the government could move to support the introduction of US-style “Magnitsky Act” sanctions legislation on Russian officials, should sufficient evidence be found.
The development comes just a day after hundreds of diners and pub-goers in the Wiltshire city were told to wash their clothing and possessions, after traces of the nerve agent were found.