Just hours after a former Obama administration official tweeted a news story blaming Russian President Vladimir Putin for swaying Italy’s weekend parliamentary election in favor of Euroskeptic parties (of course the strong gains made by the Five Star Movement had nothing to do with Italy’s massive debt load or its 38% youth unemployment rate), UK Foreign Minister Boris Johnson told MPs in the House of Commons that Russia is a “malign and destructive” force and promised it would be “brought to heel” following the suspected poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia Skripal.
The elder Skripal, 66, and his daughter, who is in her 30s, were found collapsed on a bench at a shopping center in Salisbury, South England, on Sunday. Both are in critical condition and are being treated at Salisbury Hospitals. They were discovered by a 33-year-old woman who was known to the both of them.
Per Reuters, Britain will respond robustly if proof of Russia’s involvement is discovered.
“There is much speculation about the disturbing incident in Salisbury, where a 66-year-old man, Sergei Skripal, and his 33-year-old daughter, Yulia, were found unconscious,” Johnson told parliament.
“While it would be wrong to pre-judge the investigation, I can reassure the House that should evidence emerge that implies state responsibility, then her majesty’s government will respond appropriately and robustly.”
UK police are still working to try and pinpoint what “unknown substance” harmed the Skripals. Officers discovered the pair, who had no physical injuries, at the Maltings shopping center in Salisbury, per the BBC.
Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Craig Holden said the “major incident” response from the attack didn’t amount to a counter-terrorism investigation, but that multiple agencies were involved, repudiating reports that the investigation had been taken over by counterterrorism officials.
Skripal, a retired Russian military intelligence officer, was jailed for 13 years by Russia in 2006 after he was outed as a double-agent for the UK and convicted of passing the identities of Russian intelligence agents working undercover in Europe to the UK’s Secret Intelligence Service, MI6.
Johnson also told MPs that the Skripal case had “echoes”