A former colonel in Russian’s GRU military intelligence service and his daughter were found unconscious in a shopping center in southern England on Sunday. English authorities believe that they were poisoned by an unknown substance.
Sergei Skripal is believed to have been a double agent, working both for the English and Russian governments.
London warned the Kremlin of consequences as the investigation of the incident continue. In 2006, ex-KGB agent and outspoken Putin critic, Alevander Litvineko was mysteriously poisoned with radioactive polonium-210 in London.
“If Moscow were shown to be behind Skripal’s illness, it would be difficult to see how UK representation could go to the World Cup in Russia in a normal way” said Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to the British Parliament on Tuesday morning.
He continued to say, “it is clear that Russia, I’m afraid, is now in many respects a malign and disruptive force, and the UK is in the lead across the world in trying to counteract that activity.”
Skripal was convicted in 2006 for betraying dozens of Russian spies to British intelligence. According to Time Magazine, Skripal spent four years in a Russian prison but he was pardoned and released in a high-profile spy exchange with the U.S. and U.K. Time reports that in exchange for Skripal, Russia took back ten deep-cover Russian operatives living in America, who made up a infamous spy ring the U.S. Department of Justice called the “Illegals Program.”
Russia’s GRU spy service is controlled by the military general staff and reports directly to the president. It has spies spread across the world, according to Reuters.
With less than 100 days to Moscow’s World Cup, British soccer fans questioned Johnson’s abrupt warning. Just hours after Johnson’s speech, according to Reuters, a UK government source said that Johnson meant that attendance of ministers or dignitaries will be up for question if Russia is linked to the poisoning attempt.
Both Skripal and his daughter are still critically ill in intensive care, according to British police.