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  1. Politics
19 March 2018updated 28 Jun 2021 4:39am

Putin’s win in Russia exposes the UK’s difficult position over the Salisbury poisoning

It is troublingly easy to see what Theresa May’s failure to act might look like.

By Stephen Bush

To no-one’s particular surprise, Vladimir Putin has been re-elected as Russia’s president with in excess of 70 per cent of the vote, albeit in a contest in which his main opponent was banned from standing, and several videos showed election officials stuffing ballot boxes.

But Putin’s hegemonic position in Russian politics exposes the difficulty of the British government’s position and its response to the poisoning of the Skripals. What does success look like as far as Theresa May or her government are concerned?

We know that the Kremlin is not going to apologise even if incontrovertible evidence shows that they were involved in the attack. We know, too, that Putin is set to remain as president until at least 2024. It also seems highly unlikely that Russia is going to abandon a foreign policy approach that, for the moment at least, seems to be paying dividends.

So it is not clear what success looks like as far as May’s objectives go. But it is troublingly easy to see what failure looks like: continuing attacks on British soil, cyber-attacks on British infrastructure, both of which have the potential to expose long-running failures in government policy.

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