It’s happened again. Another Russian spy who’s taken up residence in the West has been poisoned under mysterious circumstances. At this hour, he is in intensive care, his fate undetermined. Worse, his daughter was poisoned with him and likewise is in dire condition. To anyone acquainted with what the Kremlin terms wetwork, this all looks depressingly familiar…
However, Vladimir Putin has resumed wetwork in a fashion not witnessed in the Kremlin since the days of Joseph Stalin. Putin’s assassinations abroad over the last 15 years have been more aggressive than anything done during the Russian president’s KGB career. Moreover, his views on turncoats are well known: “Traitors always end badly,” he famously explained. In 2010, the year Skripal was swapped to Britain, Putin chillingly stated, “Traitors will kick the bucket. Trust me. These people betrayed their friends, their brothers-in-arms. Whatever they got in exchange for it, those thirty pieces silver they were given, they will choke on them.”
The Kremlin boss regularly uses such rough KGB argot to express himself, but the many dead Russians in Britain over the last dozen years indicates this isn’t just tough talk. Some of Skripal’s betrayal occurred when Putin was the FSB director, so this may be a personal matter for the Chekist-in-chief. Nevertheless, such a brazen public hit just a few weeks before Russia’s presidential election represents a new level of honey-badgering even for Vladimir Putin.
The message being sent is clear: Traitors are never safe, anywhere. Wherever you are hiding, the Kremlin can find you and kill you (and your family).