England may pull out of the Russia 2018 World Cup, its Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, has said.
Johnson said that if it emerged Russia was linked to the incident in Salisbury “it would be very difficult to imagine” that UK representation at this summer’s football World Cup could go ahead in the “normal way”.
Johnson’s words came after Sergei Skripal, a retired Russian colonel and former double agent for MI6 was found unconscious on a bench at the Maltings shopping centre in Salisbury.
Skripal, 66, and a woman identified as his daughter were both found unconscious on Sunday after being exposed to an “unknown substance”. They are both in critical condition in Wiltshire.
According to Independent UK, Mr Skripal was a Russian military intelligence officer given refuge in the UK after being jailed in Moscow for treason. He came to the UK as part of a high-profile “spy swap” in 2010 in which four men were exchanged for ten Russian “sleeper agents” in the US.
He is important to the UK because after working and retiring from GRU, Russian military intelligence, he was recruited by Britain’s MI6 to which he supplied intelligent information relating to Russia.
He received more than £54,000 to hand over information to the United Kingdom.
It is suspected that Skripal and his daughter were poisoned. The prime suspect is Russia but Moscow has denied any involvement, pledging to coperate in the investigations.
In a statement quoted by the RIA Novosti news agency, the Russian embassy in London said: “Media reporting could give rise to the impression that this is a planned action by the Russian security services, which in no way corresponds to the truth.”
Mr Johnson while addressing the parliament on Tuesday, said: “Honourable members will note the echoes of the death of Alexander Litvinenko in 2006.
“And while it would be wrong to prejudge the investigation, I can reassure the House that should evidence emerge that implies state responsibility, then Her Majesty’s Government will respond appropriately and robustly…
“I say to governments around the world that no attempt to take innocent life on UK soil will go unsanctioned or unpunished.”