Recent events in the U.K. involving the poisoning of a former Russian spy are extremely worrying. Following on from the work of the British intelligence services and taking into account the Russian response, which is disingenuous and lacking credibility, we are now ready to back the British Prime Minister’s assessment that this is most likely the work of the Kremlin.
This represents a very significant escalation in Russian aggression against a major western democracy and close ally of Ukraine. The Ukrainian government is monitoring this situation closely and we are speaking with senior officials in the UK government. Accordingly I have assured our British allies of our fullest support and we will join with them in pressing for the strongest response from the ‘rules based’ community. The Kremlin does not respect international borders or rules and there are no ends to which they will not go to further their own interests if they think they can get away with it.
In Ukraine we understand this better than most. We have had the Crimean peninsula illegally occupied by Russia for over four years now. And shortly after attempting to annex Crimea Russia also invaded Donbas in the East of Ukraine where Russia’s support for its proxies has cost the lives of over 10,000 Ukrainians, injured 25,000 and driven 1.8 million from their homes.
This is beginning to feel like a real wake up call for the West – I really hope it is. But the West must now respond in a way that will make Russia feel the consequences of their actions. One of the first targets should be next summer’s World Football Cup. Russia does not deserve to host such a prestigious tournament. Ideally, I would like to see the tournament taken away from them.
But if that is not possible at this late stage I would call on all nations, and on all the people of free will who value the rules based order to boycott the competition. Holding this tournament in Russia will not bring nations together – it will enrich Russia and provide them with a massive propaganda coup, which they simply do not deserve.
The free world must stand very strong and act in a very decisive way to make it clear to Russia that the type of terrorist criminality they practice will no longer be tolerated. This must be done before it is too late.