- Theresa May is due to set out her plans to retaliate against Russia for the poisoning of Sergei Skripal.
- The prime minister will chair a meeting of the National Security Council before addressing Parliament.
- However, one of her former ministers has warned that she risks “triggering something we can’t control.”
- A former spy chief warned May against launching a cyberwar against Russia.
LONDON – Theresa May has been warned by one of her own ministers that she risks “triggering something we can’t control” as she prepares to set out how the UK will retaliate against Russia for the poisoning of Sergei Skripal.
The prime minister is due to chair a meeting of the National Security Council at 8.30 am (GMT) on Wednesday morning after her deadline for Russia to give a “credible” explanation for Skripal’s death passed at midnight on Tuesday.
She will then address MPs in a statement to the House of Commons at lunchtime, setting out the full “range of measures” the UK plans to take in retaliation.
These measures could include state sanctions, the expulsion of Russian diplomats, the closure of the Russia Today channel in the UK, or the launching of a cyberwar against the Russian government.
However, UK Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood warned on Tuesday that the conflict risks spinning out of control.
According to the Times, Ellwood warned that “It’s imperative we work with our allies to avoid triggering something we can’t control.”
However, he added that May must “not blink” and should take a “Churchillian approach” in order to “win this asymmetric war.”
A former spy chief warned May against launching any cyber conflict with Russia. Robert Hannigan, the former director of GCHQ, said that “starting a cyberconflict is not in anyone’s interests,” adding that “we need to be sure that anything we do is consistent with our values.”
The comments came as Russia warned Britain against any further “provocation” against them.
“Nobody gave Britain, a nuclear power, the right to threaten and intimidate and put forward groundless ultimatums and, in violation of the existing international legal norms, invent some ‘time parameters for an answer’.” Maria Zakharova, the Russian foreign ministry’s spokeswoman, said on Wednesday evening.
She also warned Britain against closing RT, saying that “not a single British media outlet will work in our country if they close Russia Today.”
Russia also accused the UK of breaching the chemical weapons convention by refusing to supply a sample from the nerve agent used against Skripal. However, a spokesman for May insisted on Tuesday that the government had “fully complied with all its obligations under the chemicals weapons convention,” adding that there was no obligation in the convention for the UK to provide Russia with a sample.
The conflict risked escalating further on Tuesday after another Russian exile, and critic of Putin, was found dead in London.
Nikolai Glushkov, 69, was found at his home in southwest London on Monda with the Times reporting a friend of Glushkov suggesting that “there were signs of strangulation or choking” on the body.
May will today brief the North Atlantic Council on the conflict as she tries to rally support for a collective NATO response to Russia.
The prime minister has already spoken to the UK’s leading allies, including the French president Macron and the US President Donald Trump.
A spokesperson for May said that Trump had told her that “the US was with the UK all the way” but caveated his support with a call for more evidence, saying that “the Russian Government must provide unambiguous answers as to how this nerve agent came to be used.”.
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