Russia is threatening to ban all British news outlets if the UK kicks out RT over the spy poisoning

William West/AFP/Getty Images
  • Russia has threatened to expel all British media from the country if the UK bans RT, the Russian government’s news and propaganda arm.
  • British broadcasting regulator Ofcom has warned that if Russia is behind the attempted assassination of ex-spy Sergei Skripal then RT could lose its licence.
  • The attack on Skripal, using nerve gas in Salisbury, England, has caused relations between the two countries to plummet.

The Russian government is threatening to expel all British news outlets from Russia if the UK revokes the licence of RT (Russia Today), its state-owned news and propaganda arm, over the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal.

Ofcom, the British broadcasting regulator, warned RT on Tuesday that if the UK determines the nerve gas attack in Salisbury, England was an “unlawful use of force by the Russian state against the UK,” it will reconsider whether RT is “fit and proper” to hold a licence to operate in the country.

This could potentially result in RT’s British TV channel being shut down.

Russia has denied any involvement in the attack, and the Russian Foreign Ministry has now said that if this happened, it would take countermeasures against British media companies operating in the country.

“Not a single British media outlet will work in our country if they shut down Russia Today (RT),” said spokesperson Maria Zakharova, according to Sky News.

The attempted assassination has sent relations between the UK and Russia plummeting, with both sides threatening recriminations and counter-recriminations.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has accused Russia of either being responsible for the attack or losing control of its chemical weapons, and given it until midnight (UK time) on Tuesday night to explain itself. Russia, meanwhile, is refusing to respond unless it is given a sample of the nerve gas, and has expressed its displeasure to the British ambassador to Russia.

The UK may also expel Russian diplomats over the incident, withdraw government representation from the World Cup held in Russia later this year, or freeze the assets of Russian oligarchs, among other options.