The poisoning in Britain, probably by the Kremlin, of Sergei Skripal "a former Russian army officer who was convicted of spying for the United Kingdom" illustrates the Western dilemma in dealing with Putin. Because Russia is a nuclear armed state, no British government wants to risk retaliation for provocations because no single life, not even that of a protected ex-British agent is worth hazarding conflict.
Skripal was among several exchanged for Russian spies belonging to the Illegals ring of sleeper agents, which was broken up by the FBI in June, 2010. He was found delirious on a British park bench along with his similarly afflicted daughter.
From the first the Russians hinted at revenge even after the exchange. Putin himself suggested someone had "betrayed" the Illegals and a new Mercader -- a reference to the assassin of Leon Trotsky -- had been set loose to track him. In the event Putin's despised traitor, believed to be Colonel Alexander Poetyev, fled to the US before the Illegals ring was dismantled but died in of unspecified causes in 2016. Whether natural death saved him from the Kremlin's agents is not known.
The suggestion is the long hand of Kremlin vengeance has once again reached out as it formerly did to remind the world that neither the Bolsheviks nor their successors ever forgive a debt. From the assassination of Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov by poisoned umbrella in 1979 to Alexander Litvinenko's agonizing death by polonium, the murder of Kim Jong Un's brother in a Malaysian airport by sarin, till the latest incident, the former Communist World has shown an amazing talent for dealing out horrible doom to its foes.
Death by insidious and macabre means has long exercised its spell on British horror fans for decades. To die is one thing, but to die by venomextrated "patiently, drop by drop -- from the poison glands" of some infernal source seems particularly terrifying.
Given that Whitehall is understandably reluctant to risk conflict with Russia, the obvious avenue for any British retaliation would be the development of nuclear or other power to lessen the UK's partial dependence on Russian gas. Striking Putin in the wallet would not only be unwarlike but particularly effective in view of Russia's straitened circumstances. Britain's recent rescue by Siberian LNG from heating gas shortages caused by the bitter cold occasioned by Global Warming illustrates how obvious is this energy pressure point -- to Putin at least.
But energy independence is the Third Rail of British politics, and is taboo to the Greens and Socialists. Jeremy Corbyn illustrated this recently, vowing to nationalize the British energy industry "to fight climate change". Corbyn's devotion to chimerical energy sources has made surrender to Russian energy blackmail all but inevitable. Corbyn recently said: