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Thu, 1 October 2020

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Theresa May 'planning full-spectrum retaliation' against Russia if Moscow behind ex-spy nerve attack

Theresa May 'planning full-spectrum retaliation' against Russia if Moscow behind ex-spy nerve attack

Emilio Casalicchio

2 min read

Theresa May is pulling together a “full spectrum” retaliation plan against Russia if it turns out Vladimir Putin was behind the nerve agent attack on ex-spy Sergei Skripal, it has been reported.

The Prime Minister is planning to expel top diplomats and spies, issue a joint statement of condemnation with key UK allies and boost UK military deployments in Eastern Europe, according to the Sun.

Mr Skripal and his daughter Yulia - along with police officer Det Sgt Nick Bailey - were hospitalised this week after they were exposed to a deadly nerve agent in Salisbury.

Speculation has been mounting that Russia was behind the attack on the former double agent - although Moscow denies any involvement.

Senior Whitehall sources told the Sun the Prime Minister understood she would have to match public outcry in her response if it is confirmed the attack was ordered by the Kremlin.

One top minister told the paper: “We are in a new Cold War with Russia that is beginning to get hot. We need to completely overhaul our posture to reflect that.

“This is all about debilitating the West, so we have to reverse the psychology and make Putin look weak.”

They added: “Putin doesn’t dare attack the US, so he goes for us instead because of all the government’s current troubles. It is crucial we are seen to stand up to that”.

Top Tories meanwhile piled in to tell Mrs May she must stand up to Russia.

Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee Tom Tugendhat suggested the UK could boycott the world cup, due to be held by Russia this year, in response. Labour MP Chris Bryant echoed the call.

Tory MP Nicholas Soames tweeted: “The West has been pretty pathetic in sticking up for Democracy in Moscow and weak on Russian interference in Ukraine, the Balkans and Syria.”

Former Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind said: “It is becoming progressively more difficult to contemplate normal diplomatic relations with such a government."

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