Article published in The Daily Express, 6 September 2018. © Richard Kemp
Impressive police and intelligence work paint the clearest picture: Two Russian GRU military intelligence officers travelled from Moscow, launched a nerve agent attack on British soil and made their getaway.
The GRU have a track record of assassinations overseas and this hit would have been authorised personally by General Sergey Shoygu, the Russian Defence Minister, with the approval of President Putin.
Some claim the shoddy tradecraft that allowed our police and intelligence services to build up such a detailed picture proves this was not the work of the highly capable GRU.
That is to misunderstand the way they operate.
Skripal was one of their own, a GRU officer who betrayed them.
Their mission was not just to eliminate a traitor but to send a chilling message to others.
It was as well an opportunity for Putin to send a message of power and defiance to the world and to his own people, a message he reinforces often by violations of airspace, cyber war and aggression in Eastern Europe and Syria.
Putin has turned Russia into an enemy of the West at a time when we should be working with it to confront threats including Islamic terrorism, nuclear proliferation and mass uncontrolled migration.
This international gangster will not be checked by appeasement but by forceful counteraction.
It is in nobody’s interests to go to war with Russia, but we should wage a dirty war against the GRU. (more…)