Suspicious activity
March 5, 2018

A former Russian spy is in critical condition and in a hospital's intensive care unit, following exposure to an "unknown substance," British media reports.

While authorities would confirm only that a man and woman were found unconscious on a Salisbury mall bench Sunday afternoon, the media has identified the man as Sergei Skripal, a 66-year-old former Russian spy. He once served in Russia's military intelligence, retiring in 1999; in 2004, he was arrested in Moscow and confessed to being recruited by British intelligence in 1995, sharing information on Russian agents throughout Europe in exchange for more than $100,000, The Associated Press reports. He was convicted and sentenced to 13 years in prison, but was pardoned and released in 2010 as part of a U.S.-Russian spy swap.

Police said the man and woman did not have any visible injuries and did appear to known one another. Authorities have warned the public not to jump to conclusions on the matter, but it does bring to mind the death of Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian agent who was poisoned at a London hotel in 2006 after drinking tea laced with polonium-210. Keir Giles, director of the Conflict Studies Research Center in Cambridge, told AP that he "would be surprised if this were not linked back to Russia in some direct way," and said that since the poisoning of Litvinenko, several opponents of the Russian government have died in Britain under mysterious circumstances. Catherine Garcia

October 26, 2015

Almost all global internet communications travel through a network of undersea cables. If those cables were to be cut, it would serve a devastating blow to Western governments, citizens, and the estimated $10 trillion worth of global business carried daily by the cables. The idea of such an attack has the U.S. worried, as The New York Times reports that Russian submarines and spy ships are "aggressively operating" near the vital undersea cables.

Though Russia hasn't actually cut any cables, one commander of a Navy submarine fleet told The New York Times that he's "worried every day about what the Russians may be doing." Just last month, one Russian ship with two deep-sea submersible craft was spotted slowly sailing by the location of one major cable.

"The level of activity is comparable to what we saw in the Cold War," a senior European diplomat told the Times. Becca Stanek

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