January 21, 2016

CNAS Press Note: Ramifications of the Alexander Litvinenko Affair

Washington, January 21 – As a British inquiry into the 2006 poisoning death of Alexander Litvinenko concluded the death was likely approved at the highest levels of the Kremlin, CNAS Strategy and Statecraft Program Director Julianne Smith and CNAS Strategy and Statecraft Program Research Associate Rachel Rizzo have written a new Press Note: “Ramifications of the Alexander Litvinenko Affair.”

The full Press Note is below: 

Today, a British inquiry into the 2006 poisoning death of a KGB agent turned Kremlin-critic, Alexander Litvinenko, concluded that the death was most likely approved from the highest reaches of the Kremlin, including from Vladimir Putin himself. The announcement highlights the undeniable truth that the Kremlin will go to great lengths to silence those who publicly oppose and challenge its policies. It also brings Russia back into focus in the United Kingdom and across Europe, which has been distracted by the UK’s potential exit from the European Union, counterterrorism challenges following the Paris attacks, and a migration crisis of historic propositions.

The West will now need to determine the best way to respond to this development.  Will the investigation alter what appears to be Europe’s declining commitment to sanctions against Russia vis-à-vis Russia’s actions in Ukraine?  Will the UK be willing to do more to send a strong signal to Russia that it condemns this type of egregious behavior?  A failure to respond with some form of punitive measures would raise genuine questions about transatlantic values and resolve.  It would also send the wrong signal to President Putin himself, who is increasingly under the impression that his actions are without consequence.  

Smith and Rizzo are available for interviews. To arrange an interview, please contact Neal Urwitz at nurwitz@cnas.org or 202-457-9409. 


  • Julianne Smith

    Former Adjunct Senior Fellow, Transatlantic Security Program

    Julianne (“Julie”) Smith is a contributing editor to Foreign Policy, where she coedits “Shadow Government.” She is also a senior advisor at WestExec Advisors, an adjunct senio...

  • Rachel Rizzo

    Former Adjunct Fellow, Transatlantic Security Program

    Rachel Rizzo is an adjunct fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), working in the Transatlantic Security Program. Her research focuses on European security, N...