Whereas steadfastly denying any involvement within the assault, the Kremlin has added the episode to a day by day weight loss plan of stories on state information media shops that showcase what Mr. Putin, in a recent state of the nation address in Moscow, described as Russia’s invincible would possibly and its readiness to strike again at enemies wherever they’re.
Like the brand new missile methods unveiled by Mr. Putin in that speech, the assault on Mr. Skripal has solely added to the president’s stature, not less than amongst his base at house, as a fearless defender of the nation able to do something, irrespective of how dangerous, to say Russia’s standing as an important energy to be feared.
Fairly than bow to British calls for for an evidence of how a Russian-made navy nerve agent ended up in Salisbury, Moscow went on the offensive. International Minister Sergey V. Lavrov on Tuesday dismissed British accusations as “nonsense” and demanded that Britain hand over the nerve agent used in opposition to Mr. Skripal and his daughter. Russia, he added, had thus far “obtained an incoherent response, which quantities to a rejection of our authentic calls for.”
Simply as Britain did earlier to Russia’s ambassador in London, the Kremlin on Tuesday summoned the British ambassador to Moscow to demand an evidence.
Vladislav Inozemtsev, a Russia scholar at present on the Polish Institute of Superior Research in Warsaw, mentioned the nerve-agent episode confirmed that “speaking to Mr. Putin has change into mindless.” The Russian president and his senior officers, he mentioned, would “by no means assume duty,” regardless of the details have been, and would solely gloat over the struggling of a traitorous former spy — nonetheless unconscious and in essential situation — whereas blaming Britain for it.
“They’ll follow the thesis that Westerners kill brokers they don’t want anymore after which blame Russia,” Mr. Inozemtsev mentioned.
Russia below Mr. Putin, mentioned Mr. Galeotti, an knowledgeable on Russia’s safety companies, “has given up on profitable respect by way of gentle energy and is pursuing what I name ‘darkish energy.’ ”
This method, which includes Russia throwing its weight round after which reveling within the outrage this causes, Mr. Galeotti added in a phone interview, “performs into Putin’s personal pure instincts that an important energy is one that’s feared. It’s higher and far simpler to be feared than liked.”
Of all of the virtues during which Mr. Putin takes delight, none has extra significance to the Russian chief — a veteran of a Soviet safety equipment constructed round a cult of loyalty to the state — than his dedication to the concept no one, particularly not spies who defy their vows, can escape punishment for betrayal.
Answering questions from residents in a 2010 phone-in program, Mr. Putin praised intelligence officers as “individuals who lay their entire lives on the altar of the Fatherland” and denounced those that betrayed this mission as “pigs” whose destiny can be so depressing that they’d “remorse a thousand instances” their treachery.
Mr. Skripal, who was convicted of excessive treason in Russia in 2004 after which allowed to settle in Britain after a 2010 spy swap, was a case examine of all that Mr. Putin loathes.
Mr. Skripal nearly definitely had no extra Russian secrets and techniques to betray when he was attacked with a nerve agent recognized as considered one of a Russian-produced class of chemical substances referred to as Novichok. However he nonetheless represented an affront to the precept that betrayal mustn’t ever go unpunished: He was alive and dwelling comfortably in a pleasing English cathedral city.
As occurred after accusations that Russia was chargeable for the 2006 murder in London by radioactive poisoning of one other intelligence turncoat, Alexander V. Litvinenko, the downing of a Malaysian passenger aircraft over Ukraine in 2014 and meddling in America’s 2016 presidential election, officers and state information media shops in Moscow responded with a barrage of denials and mockery to the newest outrage. They’ve scoffed on the concept Russia may probably have had any function within the assault on Mr. Skripal and even recommended that the entire episode may need been fabricated.
The Russian Embassy in London, in sneering statements on its web site and Twitter feed, refers back to the “Sergei Skripal Case,” utilizing citation marks to recommend it doesn’t imagine there actually is such a case.
Russia has but to handle in any element the primary piece of proof pointing to a Russian hand — that Novichok brokers have been produced solely in Russia — and has as an alternative developed conspiracy theories involving Ukraine, British revenge for previous athletic defeats forward of this yr’s World Cup soccer event in Russia and different far-fetched explanations.
Moscow has been exasperated that its denials are usually not taken severely and have been mocked relentlessly below a Twitter hashtag, #Russiadenies, regardless that officers have up to now acknowledged what that they had earlier denied.
Mr. Putin and his lieutenants, for instance, denied for weeks that Russian troopers have been concerned within the seizure of Ukrainian navy bases and authorities places of work in Crimea in March 2014. The motion, they insisted, was solely the work of native “self-defense items.” The next month, nevertheless, Mr. Putin made a pointy U-turn, declaring, “After all our troops stood behind Crimea’s self-defense forces.”
Maria V. Zakharova, the Russian International Ministry’s spokeswoman, mocked Mrs. Could’s assertion to Parliament in London as a “circus present,” adopting a sneering and decidedly undiplomatic tone now in vogue amongst Russian diplomats and commentators.
However in an earlier remark, quickly after information of the nerve fuel assault in Salisbury broke, the evening news host on the state-controlled Channel One gave voice to what, below Mr. Putin, is the Russian state’s view of traitors.
“I don’t want loss of life on anybody, however for purely instructional functions, I’ve a warning for anybody who goals of such a profession,” the newscaster Kirill Kleimenov advised viewers. “The career of a traitor is likely one of the most harmful on this planet.”