Unpacking the "Tit-for-Tat" Battle Between Russia and the UK

March 15, 2018
Updated 1mo ago

A day after the UK expelled almost a dozen Russian diplomats over an attempted murder on British soil, the Kremlin will most likely retaliate with “tit-for-tat expulsions,” said Jason Douglas, a reporter at the Wall Street Journal.

He said relations between the UK and Russia are now “at their worst since the Cold War.”

It all stems from the attempted poisoning on March 4 of a former Russian spy and his daughter, who have been living in Britain. The pair were exposed to a Russia-produced nerve agent known as Novichok and are now in hospital in critical condition.

This attack is the first use of a nerve agent in Europe since WWII, and the UK has declared that it is “highly likely” Russian authorities were behind it.

Novichok was first developed in the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s. It is far more lethal than other poisons like VX, which is listed as a weapon of mass destruction and was used to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un’s half-brother.

On Thursday, UK allies including the U.S. came forward to condemn Russia for its alleged actions, saying “this threatens the security of us all.”

“There’s definitely a tough line from the international community,” said Douglas. “Whether that translates into firm action...is an open question. But it does seem that the UK has been pretty successful in corralling its allies.”

Also on Thursday, the Trump administration announced new sanctions against a number of Russian organizations and individuals for the country’s interference with the 2016 presidential elections.

The global community is now closely watching how Russia will handle this pressure from the West.