Assassination attempts as cyber casus belli?
UK Prime Minister May demanded an explanation from Russia, by midnight Tuesday, of the March 4th attempted assassination by nerve agent of former GRU officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. Russia didn't comply: Foreign Minister Lavrov dismissed any notion of Russian complicity as "nonsense." Essentially no one believes this. It would seem Russia either committed the attack or lost control of its weapon. The poison was al nerve agent—Novichok—the Soviet Union developed during the Cold War's endgame. No other country is known to have stocks of Novichok (Times).
The UK expelled twenty-three Russian diplomats in response (Guardian). Russia will follow suit. Prime Minister May will consider the "full range of measures" available for retaliation (Business Insider). The UK has asked for a UN Security Council meeting to address what Prime Minister May called "an indiscriminate and reckless act against the United Kingdom, putting the lives of innocent civilians at risk." She added, "Should there be no credible response, we will conclude that this action amounts to an unlawful use of force by the Russian state against the United Kingdom" (Times).
Home Secretary Rudd said retaliation may be covert or clandestine, which, in the context of Cabinet statements on cyber defense, hints at cyber reprisals (SC Magazine). The Russian government has demanded the UK explain cyber operations rumors (TASS). The UK is concerned about Russian cyber escalation: some fear a grid attack would leave the country "four meals from anarchy" (Telegraph).