Russian President Vladimir Putin could well be using the poisoning of an ex-spy and his daughter as political capital, says international relations expert Al Gillespie.
“[Putin] certainly doesn’t like traitors and loyalty to Russia is very important,” Mr Gillespie told Mark Sainsbury on Morning Talk.
Russia’s presidential election is just around the corner, to kick off on March 18.
“If you’d like to be popular at home, having a fight with Britain would be a very good way of doing it,” he pointed out.
Mr Gillespie told Mark Sainsbury that the combination of Putin’s meddling in the US elections and the apparent poisoning of former spies doesn’t bode well for the world.
“The world is tense,” he told RadioLIVE.
“The way the next 24 hours fold out we could very well be back into a very Cold War situation.”
Russia's foreign minister Sergey Lavrov spoke in response to the British government's demand for an explanation of the use of a military-grade nerve agent produced in Russia in the attack in the English city of Salisbury.
Russia will only co-operate with Britain it receives samples of the nerve agent that is believed to have been used.
It’s almost too obvious.
Mr Lavrov insisted that Russia is "not to blame" for the poisoning.
But Mr Gillespie says “it’s almost too obvious” that Russia was involved.
“If [Russia] was trying to send a signal that they’ve got complete control, this would do it.”
British Prime Minister Theresa May said Russia's involvement is "highly likely" and delivered a Tuesday deadline for a Russian response.
Officials said Ms May is reviewing a range of economic and diplomatic measures in retaliation for the assault with a military-grade nerve agent.
Listen to the full interview with Al Gillespie above.
Some of the content of this article appeared earlier on Newshub.co.nz