This news snippet is almost out of a James Bond movie.
Last week, the United Kingdom accused Russia of poisoning Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33.
The Skripals were found poisoned and lying unconscious on a bench in the British town of Salisbury. British detectives investigating the case said that the Skripals were poisoned with a specific type of nerve agent.
This is where the plot thickens. Apparently, the particular nerve agent was developed by the Soviet Union military decades ago. The British government believes it is “highly likely” that Russia was responsible.
Russia is denying these allegations and demanding that samples of the nerve agent used to poison them be handed over.
Who is Sergei Skripal? And why would the Russians want him dead?
Sergei Skripal was born in the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union was a big communist bloc that broke up into 15 countries in 1991. Russia is one of them. Sergei Skripal worked for the Soviet Union Military Intelligence.
In 2004, he was accused of leaking Russian secrets to the British Intelligence Agency known as MI6. In a secret trial in Moscow, it is believed that he confessed to being a double agent and to sharing top-secret Russian information with the British Intelligence.
He shared names, addresses, codenames of several dozen Russian spies to MI6. Many of the Russian spies he betrayed lived in Britain and Europe.
In 2004, he was arrested and sent to prison in Russia.
How did Sergei land up in Salisbury, England?
In 2010, U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) uncovered a group of Russian spies, or a spy ring, in the United States. The United States negotiated a “Spy Swap” program with Russia.
In the Spy Swap program, four foreign spies held in Russia, including Sergei Skripal, were handed over in exchange for the 10 Russian spies. Sergei moved to Salisbury in the UK, bought a house and started living there.
How does this end?
Sergei Skripal and his daughter are alive but critical. Detectives in Britain are working to establish the origin of a nerve agent and find the culprits.
Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May is upset. She said that she will protect all British citizens and others living in Britain. She has expelled 23 Russian diplomats and announced the UK will not be participating in the football World Cup in Russia this summer.
Moscow has denied all involvement and is expelling 23 British diplomats in response.
Written by: Shruti Divecha. Shruti was a graphic and textile designer by profession till her curiosity filled daughter pulled out the writer inside her. She writes stories, GK nuggets and teaches recycled crafts to children.