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Russian spy attack: Theresa May plans for ‘economic war’ with Vladimir Putin and his allies

Theresa May is drawing up plans for an “financial battle” with Vladimir Putin and his allies after Moscow refused to clarify how a lethal Russian nerve agent got here for use in a rural British metropolis.

The Unbiased understands floor is already being ready for financial measures comparable to asset freezes and seizures, alongside visa bans in opposition to Russian people.

Ms Could can also be understood to be contemplating expelling diplomats and pushing for joint worldwide motion with allies.

The Prime Minister is about to fulfill her Nationwide Safety Council on Wednesday to finalise her strategy which is then probably be introduced to the Home of Commons within the afternoon.

Motion got here a step nearer after the Russian International Minister mentioned his nation wouldn’t cooperate with the British investigation into the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury on four March.

However Britain’s allies gave early help to Ms Could’s push, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel calling for unified motion and US President Donald Trump saying there have to be “penalties” for these accountable.

It got here throughout one other dramatic day on which:

On Monday Ms Could delivered an ultimatum to Russia, that it must clarify how Novichok, a Russian-made nerve agent got here for use in Salisbury.

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She warned of “in depth measures” if a full account was not given by midnight on Tuesday, one thing International Minister Sergei Lavrov declined to do with out being handed a pattern of the nerve agent recognized by the British investigation.

A Authorities minister informed The Unbiased: “What occurs shall be an financial battle, these shall be financial measures.

Russia’s financial system is barely half that of the UK, loads of it concentrated in a couple of folks’s arms. Properly, we’ll do our bit to make smaller in the event that they need to keep on like this

Authorities minister

“Russia’s financial system is barely half that of the UK, loads of it concentrated in a couple of folks’s arms. Properly, we’ll do our bit to make it smaller in the event that they need to keep on like this.

“That doesn’t give us any pleasure in any respect, however we want the nations of Europe to behave inside the rule of regulation and never like gangsters. The message has to financial, political and diplomatic.”

A key possibility open to the Authorities are powers underneath the Legal Funds Act which might see Russian owned belongings and property – price a whole lot of thousands and thousands of kilos in London – thrust underneath the highlight.

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If people who’ve ties to Mr Putin or are linked to the Salisbury assault can’t present that reputable means have been used to buy belongings, then they might be seized, as might banked cash which is of a suspicious origin.

After former Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko was killed with radioactive poison in 2006, the UK additionally expelled diplomats, imposed visa restrictions and froze belongings of two suspects, however Ms Could has indicated she desires to go additional this time.

The minister informed The Unbiased the entire bundle of measures being pursued could be “better than the sum of its components”.

They went on: “The phrases that the Prime Minister used had been that this constituted an ‘illegal use of pressure’, which is necessary as a result of it does justify proportionate retaliatory motion.

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“Her fundamental pitch is that we’re a rustic that respects worldwide regulation and we’re going to show by our adherence to that how a lot better we’re than the gangsterism and lawlessness that characterised this incident.

“So when measures are introduced, the entire shall be better than the sum of its components, whenever you take the general bundle of measures introduced, they are going to have pressure.”

The Authorities additionally hopes that the distinction between the UK’s law-based strategy and that of Russia’s, will give it credit score in worldwide boards just like the UN and Nato, and with EU companions.

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Whereas ministers know Russia can use its Safety Council veto to dam a joint-call for sanctions on the UN, diplomats should still push the problem to make a present of isolating Moscow.

One Authorities insider pointed in the direction of the case of Yvonne Fletcher, the policewoman who was shot from the Libyan embassy in London in 1984, resulting in sanctions in opposition to Tripoli.

The Unbiased reported yesterday that ministers had already mentioned expelling Russian diplomats from the UK.

In a diplomatic present of energy forward of Wednesday, when the worldwide neighborhood will watch to see whether or not she lives as much as her risk of “in depth measures”, Ms Could held talks with world leaders.

A Downing Avenue spokesman confirmed the Prime Minister had talked with Chancellor Merkel on Tuesday afternoon to replace her on the on-going investigation.

He mentioned: “They mentioned the sample of aggressive Russian behaviour and agreed it could be necessary to behave in unison with allies to counter it.

“Chancellor Merkel condemned the assault and mentioned she stood in full solidarity with the UK.

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“They agreed that the worldwide neighborhood ought to coordinate carefully because the investigation developed and within the wake of Russia’s response.”

On Monday Mr Tillerson strongly backed Ms Could’ strategy and the British authorities’s evaluation about it being “extremely probably” that Russia ordered the assault in Salisbury.

However on the common White Home press briefing the President’s press secretary, Sarah Sanders, refused repeatedly to assign blame to Russia.

Mr Trump then additionally appeared unwilling to take action as he spoke to reporters on Tuesday, however the Quantity 10 spokesman mentioned that in a name Mr Trump had informed Ms Could the US is “with the UK all the best way”.

Readouts of the decision from each side underlined that the 2 leaders agree that “the Russian authorities should present unambiguous solutions as to how this nerve agent got here for use”.

The White Home readout went additional including that the pair additionally agreed “the necessity for penalties for many who use these heinous weapons”.

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