Vladimir Putin just screwed up

Russian President Vladimir Putin has helped to create an aura of evil invincibility around himself by murdering people he doesn’t like all around the world. We’ve lost count of how many political opponents, dissidents, and Trump-Russia scandal liabilities Putin has killed in recent years. But even with all this killing, Putin has made sure to insulate himself from the most serious of international retribution – until now. It turns out he just screwed up badly.

Putin’s trick is that he only murders Russian nationals. Sure, he’s had people killed in other nations, but he never kills foreign nationals. It sometimes get him hit with sanctions and other measures, but no one declares war on him for it. This week Putin apparently poisoned a former Russian spy and his daughter in London. This was brazen, but it was unlikely that the UK would take serious retaliatory measures over a dead Russian spy. The trouble: according to NBC News, at least nineteen British nationals were also exposed to the poison and have fallen ill (though as of yet none of them have died). Some were trying to help the victims, and some were merely nearby.

Once it’s firmly established that Russia was indeed behind the poisoning of these Russian nationals, the UK and its allies will have to decide how to respond to Putin’s attempted murder of nineteen British citizens on British soil. We’ve seen the West take economic action against Putin for having murdered his own dissidents, but this is new territory.

Perhaps most importantly, if the UK and its allies do decide to take some kind of major punitive action against Russia for this incident, they won’t necessarily need the United States on board with it. Donald Trump has become so tepid and petrified that at this point, he would probably be afraid to even take an official position on any major conflict between Europe and Russia. Meanwhile, aside from his puppets, Vladimir Putin has virtually no allies left anywhere in the world.

Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report