The Poisoning of Sergei & Yulia Skripal

You may not recognize the name Sergei Skripal, but you should.

Skripal is a 66-year-old former Russian spy who went on to be a spy for the British government. He was arrested by Russian officials in 2004 for his double agent work, convicted of high treason and jailed. But he was pardoned and released in 2010, as part of a “spy swap,” and moved to Salisbury with his wife.

Then, on March 4th of this year, Skripal was found unconscious on a Salisbury park bench with his daughter in the same state. It turns out that the two had been poisoned with a nerve agent allegedly developed in the Soviet Union.

Though British officials blame Russia for the poisoning, the country is denying involvement. What has resulted since is some of the tensest exchanges between the two countries in decades. Britain is accusing Russia of essentially carrying out a chemical attack on their soil, and is demanding that they provide an explanation. Meanwhile, Russian officials have denied the claim, or blamed it on other parties. In response, the UK and its many allies have expelled over 150 Russian nationalists from their countries.

More information about these complicated foreign relations can be seen in this episode of The Russia Desk.