A highly expected British enquiry report released on Thursday has claimed that the Russian President Vladimir Putin might have approved the fatal poisoning of a former KGB operative-turned- British intelligence agent Alexander Litvinenko at a London hotel. It is said that the agent had succumbed to radioactive polonium which has slipped into his cup of green tea. The report is sure to raise tensions between UK and Russia.
Britain’s Home Secretary Theresa May had announced at the House of Commons that UK would summon the Russian ambassador to express its “profound displeasure” over Russia’s “blatant and unacceptable breach of the most fundamental tenants of international law.”She also added that more serious consequences would be studied.
The British Parliamentary committee has described the assassination as “a miniature nuclear attack on the streets of London.” Meanwhile the agent’s widow has asked Britain to expel Russian intelligence officials from the country.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has however quickly dismissed the report’s conclusion as politically motivated. In Moscow, the foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, pushed back hard.”We regret,” she said, “that the strictly criminal case has been politicized and has darkened the general atmosphere of bilateral relations.”
The report of over 328 pages, says that Putin had a personal motive for wanting Litvinenko dead, and that the president would likely have had to approve a high-stakes operation to assassinate the former KGB operative on British soil.
The inquiry’s findings come at a highly sensitive time, as the West seeks Russian cooperation in ending the Syrian war. And it is hoped that the British government may not want to add fresh hostility to an already troubled relationship.