As Sergei Skripal, the Russian military intelligence officer turned MI6 asset, lies in a critical state in hospital, the line from Salisbury to Moscow is already being drawn. There is no question that this has all the hallmarks of attempted “wet work” – a Russian euphemism for assassination – by Russia’s intelligence services.

If confirmed, it follows a worrying trend of assassinations and similar covert operations that, in Western intelligence circles, are only ever meant to be the very last resort.

In recent years the Russians have become even more willing to twist – and outright break – unwritten rules of the spy game that have been in place for decades.

To an extent this reflects Vladimir…

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