These Are the UK’s Options for Russia Reprisal

Prime Minister Theresa May has threatened action against Russia over the poisoning of a former spy on British soil. But what can she actually do?

Unilateral options include the expulsion of Russian diplomats, removing the broadcast license of Russia’s English-language television arm and preventing officials from attending this year’s soccer World Cup. Other measures, including an expansion of European Union sanctions against Russia, would require international support.

Here is a snapshot of a complicated relationship that has hit a post-Cold War low and some of the options open to May.


Regaining Popularity

Russian visitors to U.K. fell after the ruble lost value in 2014-15, but are rising again

Source: Russian Tourism Agency

Russia was only Britain’s 40th largest market for tourists in 2016, according to Visit Britain, though Russian data show numbers rebounded in the first nine months of 2017 after a period in which a weaker ruble hurt demand.

Financesaid Tuesday the issue “is a matter between Britain and Russia.”

Shrinking Trade

Tensions between Russia and West have triggered sanctions, damaging trade

Source: Bloomberg, International Monetary Fund

Bilateral trade data also show weakening ties in recent years, reflecting the diplomatic spat over Litvinenko’s killing and U.K. accusations of Russian interference in elections, as well as the impact of EU sanctions after Russia’s invasion of Crimea.


Heating Homes

Data from Russia‘s Gazprom show more of its natural gas reaching the U.K.

Source: Russia‘s state-run Gazprom


Russia has considerable leverage as a key supplier of natural gas to Europe. The U.K. is a net importer, and though it doesn’t buy directly from Russia, data from state-run Gazprom show more of its gas shipped to Britain via Europe since 2010.

— With assistance by Elena Mazneva