An ex-Russian officer who was convicted of spying for Britain is now in a critical condition after being exposed to an unidentified substance in Salisbury, England.
Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia Skripal, were found unconscious and slumped on a bench on Sunday evening at The Malting Shopping Centre.
An investigation is underway to identify the suspicious circumstances surrounding the event and so far Russia has denied any involvement with the poisoning.
Though the substance that affected the pair is yet to be identified the BBC has also revealed that one emergency worker who was in attendance at the scene has now also been taken to hospital.
Skripal was convicted of high treason and espionage by Russia and jailed for 13 years in August 2006 after he was discovered to be providing information to UK’s intelligence services (MI6).
He was believed to have exposed a number of identities of secret agents located within England at the time and paid over $100,000 for the information.
In 2010 he was released to the English intelligence community following a ‘spy-swap’ which saw England receive four prisoners in exchange for ten Russian spies. Having been seeking asylum in England, in the past two years Skripal’s wife, brother and son have also died although it is unclear if the deaths are connected to recent events.
Services are yet to declare that a crime has been committed but British intelligence officers working at the scene have also cordoned off the areas surrounding the shopping centre. The police are also looking for an unidentified man and woman who were seen walking near the location shortly before the poisoning.
It has already been speculated by UK ministers that this weekend’s events have strong similarities to the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko in 2006.
The former Russian agent died after being exposed to a radioactive substance in London and the following investigation took weeks to ascertain that the murder was even deliberate. More recently, the order to poison Litvinenko was suggested as being a direct order from Russian government officials, or Putin himself.
In response to the alleged ‘poisoning’, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has suggested that more sanctions will be imposed on Russia if a link between the government and recent events are discovered. The case however also brings to light the British intelligence community and their ability to protect people who place the safety of their lives and that of their families into British hands.
Not yet confirmed he was murdered, but after the UK's pathetic response to Litvinenko's assassination with polonium in London, why wouldn't Putin do it again? https://t.co/Xh8B4bxmd5
— Garry Kasparov (@Kasparov63) March 5, 2018
At a time when global relations with Russia remain relatively fraught, the fresh speculations that the Russian government is ultimately behind the poisoning harks back to a time of Cold War secrecy and heightened threats of war. If found out to be the case, this could potentially serve as a major blow to the progress and relations of a number of countries.