PUTIN RAISES THE STAKES; Kremlin Defies May's Midnight Ultimatum and Warns Britain: Don't Threaten a Nuclear State

Daily Mail (London), March 14, 2018 | Go to article overview

PUTIN RAISES THE STAKES; Kremlin Defies May's Midnight Ultimatum and Warns Britain: Don't Threaten a Nuclear State


Byline: Larisa Brown, John Stevens and Jemma Buckley

RUSSIA last night issued a chilling warning to Britain not to threaten a nuclear power.

As Theresa May prepared to unveil retaliatory measures against Moscow, the Kremlin refused to explain how its former spy Sergei Skripal was poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent in Britain.

And - in a coded reference to Vladimir Putin's boasts about his nuclear arsenal - Russian embassy staff in London warned: 'Any threat to take punitive measures against Russia will meet with a response. The British side should be aware of that.' Moscow said it would not comply with a deadline of midnight last night to answer Britain's questions about the poisoning outrage in Salisbury ten days ago.

This means that - with the backing of the US, Germany and France - Mrs May is now heading toward a showdown with President Putin and his regime.

The Prime Minister is today expected to impose tough sanctions against Moscow, including booting out Russian diplomats and seizing the assets of Mr Putin's cronies.

As relations between the two countries hit what was their lowest point since the Cold War:

Nikolai Glushkov, the right-hand man of Vladimir Putin's 'personal enemy number one', was found dead at his London home, reportedly with 'strangulation' marks;

Whitehall sources claimed that Mr Skripal was poisoned by the deadly nerve agent Novichok smeared on the door handle of his red BMW;

US President Donald Trump was said to be 'with the UK all the way' and demanding 'consequences' after speaking to the PM;

Pressure mounted for a co-ordinated World Cup boycott as MPs, football dignitaries and foreign nations including the Ukraine intervened to call for action;

Russia threatened to expel all British media if its television channel RT is shut down in the UK;

Military pressure on the PM to act tough ramped up, with a senior officer claiming Russia continued to 'mock the world';

Britain's ambassador in Moscow, Laurie Bristow, met deputy foreign minister Vladimir Titov in Moscow;

Home Secretary Amber Rudd revealed a string of deaths on UK soil are to be reinvestigated by the police and MI5 after claims of Russian involvement.

On Monday Mrs May gave a damning statement to MPs in which she said it was highly likely that Moscow was responsible for the use of a nerve agent of a type produced by Russia against Mr Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury on March 4. Russia last night refused to respond to the PM's demands that it explain how this happened despite her warnings that an inadequate explanation would force Britain to take retaliatory action.

Mrs May will today hold talks with her ministers and security chiefs at the National Security Council before updating the Commons on the investigation and her next steps. …

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