Countries around the world have announced that they would expel Russian diplomats in a show of solidarity with the UK, but now the Queen’s government is taking things one step further:
It’s preparing to enforce a newly passed law that will allow the government to confiscate or freeze any Russian capital “of dubious origin” – a measure clearly intended to permit a crackdown on Russian oligarchs living in London.
According to Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson, warrants for the seizure of Russian capital and assets of doubtful origin have already been issued, according to Sputnik News. The goal is to ensure that any property attained by unknown means is registered, according to the law. Williams said during his speech that Russia’s goal was to divide Europe, but that actions of solidarity by Estonia and other European countries have shown “that’s not possible.”
Wilson promised that the government would work diligently during the coming days and weeks until this problem is solved. Relations between the two countries have markedly worsened since the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia earlier this month. Prime Minister Theresa May has said she’s doubtful Skripal will recover – and that more than 100 bystanders have sought medical treatment.
The UK has said Russia is the only plausible suspect thanks to the use of Novichok, a nerve agent that was purportedly developed by the Soviet Union.
The Russian side has denied all the accusations and suggested participating jointly in the investigation. However, Moscow’s request for samples was ignored. Moscow in turn also expelled 23 UK diplomats and ordered the British Council to stop its activities in Russia in response to London’s move.
Williamson has been a fan of bellicose language toward Russia in the wake of the attack.
He famously said earlier this month that Russia “should go away and shut up” while responding to a question about Moscow’s statements that it would expel British diplomats (which it did), as RT notes.
Carrying out such a crackdown would be one way to show that the UK government is interested not only in the perfunctory expulsion of diplomats, but also the in making life more difficult for some Russian oligarchs and other businessmen who call London home.