From expelling Russian diplomats to keeping royals at home during the World Cup, British Prime Minister Theresa May announced a series of measures against Moscow on Wednesday in response to the poisoning of a former double agent.
Here are five key points from the prime minister’s speech:
Blaming Russia
May said the Kremlin had offered ‘no explanation’ of how a nerve agent developed in Russia came to be used in the attack in Salisbury, southwest England, declaring that its response showed ‘complete disdain for the gravity of these events’.
‘They have treated the use of a military grade nerve agent in Europe with sarcasm, contempt and defiance,’ she said.
For the first time she directly blamed Russia for the poisoning, saying: ‘There is no alternative conclusion other than that the Russian State was culpable.’
She added: ‘Many of us looked at a post-Soviet Russia with hope. We wanted a better relationship and it is tragic that President (Vladimir) Putin has chosen to act in this way.’
Expelling diplomats
May vowed to ‘dismantle the Russian espionage network in the UK’, announcing the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats ‘identified as undeclared intelligence officers’ and giving them one week to leave Britain.
‘This will be the single biggest expulsion for over 30 years and it reflects the fact that this is not the first time that the Russian state has acted against our country,’ she told MPs.
Britain expelled four Russian diplomats in 2007, in response to the radioactive poisoning of former agent Alexander Litvinenko.
After a record number of 105 Soviet diplomats being thrown out in 1971, there were further expulsions in 1985, 1989 and 1996.
World Cup
The government’s decision to suspend high-level diplomatic contact with Moscow will affect Britain’s off-the-pitch role at the football World Cup.
‘There will be no attendance by ministers – or indeed members of the royal family – at this summer’s World Cup in Russia,’ May said.
The move does not affect the England team’s participation in the tournament.
Freezing assets
Super-rich Russians have invested heavily in London in recent years, but May warned their money would be under greater scrutiny.
‘We will freeze Russian state assets wherever we have the evidence that they may be used to threaten the life or property of UK nationals or residents,’ she said.
May said that while many Russians made an ‘important contribution’ to Britain, the government would continue to act against ‘serious criminals and corrupt elites’.
‘There is no place for these people – or their money – in our country,’ she warned.
New laws, sanctions
May pledged to ‘urgently’ develop new legislation to give law enforcement the ability to detain those ‘suspected of hostile state activity’ trying to enter Britain. Such a power is currently only used against terrorism suspects.
Lawmakers’ ability to impose sanctions on those responsible for rights violations will be strengthened, May said, as part of legislation named after anti-graft lawyer Sergei Magnitsky who died in Russian detention.
The government will also look into new counter-espionage laws ‘to clamp down on the full spectrum of hostile activities of foreign agents in our country’, May said.