Britain must not be cowed by Putin

Russian president Vladimir Putin has shrugged off accusations that he ordered Alexander Litvinenko's death.


Vladimir Putin: "probably" behind Litvinenko's murder

A decade after Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned with polonium in London, an "overdue but exhaustive" inquiry by Sir Robert Owen has found that his murder was "probably" approved by Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, due to Litvinenko's "fearless criticism of the Kremlin", says The Times.

In response, we've seen the "predictable formalities": Russia's ambassador has been "summoned for a dressing down"; UK asset freezes were announced for the chief suspects, Andrei Lugovoy and Dmitri Kovtun; and a "file has been sent to the director of public prosecutions". And Putin has demonstrated his "insouciance" by awarding Lugovoy a medal for "services to the fatherland", says Dominic Lawson in The Sunday Times.

"Dealing with rogue states is easiest when they are weakand far away," says Edward Lucas in The Daily Telegraph."A nuclear power on your doorstep" is another matter. Russia knows the British government's "overwhelming priority" is to gain its support over Syria, so it will wiggle out of punishing this "astonishing, brazen crime". And, says Alex Titov in TheConversation, this is an "old story" there is nothing here that the British intelligence services did not already know.

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That doesn't make it too late to act, says Bill Browder in The Guardian. Following the murder of my lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky in 2009, I worked with US congress to pass the Magnitsky Act, which imposed US visa sanctions and asset freezes on the Russians involved. Putin was so riled he declared his "top foreign policy goal" was to stop it, and warned that it would "destroy" diplomatic relations. It didn't. But it did strike fear into "every official in Putin's regime".

Home Secretary Theresa May argues that such sanctions don't work. She's wrong. Russians know the Putin regime won't last; they keep their money in the West and are "terrified" by the thought that no country will take them once he's gone. Conversely, "putting diplomatic and business relations with Russia above criminal justice and public safety is a sign of weakness that will surely lead to more killings on British soil". The UK government must follow America's example and show it "will not be cowed".

Emily Hohler

Emily has extensive experience in the world of journalism. She has worked on MoneyWeek for more than 20 years as a former assistant editor and writer. Emily has previously worked on titles including The Times as a Deputy Features Editor, Commissioning Editor at The Independent Sunday Review, The Daily Telegraph, and she spent three years at women's lifestyle magazine Marie Claire as a features writer for three years, early on in her career. 

On MoneyWeek, Emily’s coverage includes Brexit and global markets such as Russia and China. Aside from her writing, Emily is a Nutritional Therapist and she runs her own business called Root Branch Nutrition in Oxfordshire, where she offers consultations and workshops on nutrition and health.