U.K. to Expel Russian Diplomats After Spy Poisoning

There was a time, not long ago, when if Russia had poisoned a person within the borders of our closest ally, the United States would be mobilizing to support Britain in a united response to what would have been considered an act of war.

But, in a post-Brexit and Trump presidency world, those days are gone. Britain has been left with few good options, even as the Russian Embassy publicly taunts the British over the poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a Russian defense intelligence officer who spied for Britain.

Brexit has alienated them from European allies, and the United States' leadership has all but abandoned them, with Donald Trump weakly offering yesterday: "We're speaking with Theresa May today. As soon as we get the facts straight, if we agree with them, we will condemn Russia or whoever it may be." Yet worse, Trump appears to have fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in response to his saying that Russia was behind the poisoning which would "certainly trigger a response."

So the U.K. is being obliged to act largely in isolation, which leaves them with little leverage. Which is precisely what Russia has been angling to accomplish.

Alexander Smith at NBC News: U.K. to Expel 23 Diplomats in Retaliation for Spy Poisoning.
Britain is to expel 23 Russian diplomats operating as undeclared intelligence officers after Moscow ignored a midnight deadline to explain how its nerve agent was used in the attempted assassination of a former double agent on U.K. soil.

The move — the largest such expulsion in three decades — "will fundamentally degrade Russian intelligence capabilities in the U.K. for years to come," British Prime Minister Theresa May announced in Parliament Wednesday. "If they seek to rebuild them we will prevent them from doing so."

...With the deadline ignored, May chaired a meeting of Britain's National Security Council. Here, the prime minister, her top advisers and senior Cabinet ministers decided how to react to what May had earlier called an "unlawful use of force by the Russian State against the United Kingdom."
Naturally, Russia immediately responded by calling Britain's response an escalation and further escalating the stakes themselves.
"Everything that is done today by the British government is absolutely unacceptable and we consider this a provocation," Russian Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko told Sky News outside the Foreign Office.

Earlier, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Britain was flagrantly trying to mislead the international community but that Russia would not allow this to happen.
Lavrov was one of the two Russian officials to whom Donald Trump spilled classified information given to the U.S. by Israel.

To be abundantly clear: Russia has actively sought for decades to undermine the alliances between the United States and the U.K., Germany, France, and others. It has been an explicit goal to create global instability and a subsequent power vacuum that Russia could exploit.

And here we are.

Where we go next is anyone's guess, but it's certainly not going to go in a direction that favors democracy-loving people, without an epic fight.

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