The word “brazen” hardly does justice to the nerve-agent attack on former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, England. The British investigation made public Wednesday shows that two Russian men traveled to London from Moscow on Aeroflot, carried out the poisoning attempt, threw the leftover substance into a charity pickup bin and caught a flight home. It appears that whoever ordered this operation wanted the killers to be showy about it – to poke Britain in the eye.

Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov are charged with the nerve agent poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

In March, they succeeded in badly poisoning the Skripals, who survived and recovered. The discarded nerve agent in a perfume bottle was found by a scavenger and given to his girlfriend, Dawn Sturgess, who died from exposure. The two Russians have been charged in absentia with attempted murder, and identified by British Prime Minister Theresa May as officers of the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence service, most likely traveling under assumed names. They probably won’t be extradited to Britain, just as the killers of former KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko escaped punishment for fatally poisoning him in 2006 with polonium in his tea in a London hotel cafe. Predictably, Russia is issuing blanket denials.

These are outlaw acts. Such murderous hit squads operating on foreign soil are an insult to nations that uphold the rule of law and international norms. For its part, the Trump administration recently imposed sanctions required by a 1991 law limiting certain exports to state-controlled and -owned firms. A second round of even tougher punishments is envisioned in the law if there is no sign that Russia is in compliance.

After Litvinenko died, Britain did not do enough to make sure it would not happen again. Now it has, and the response must measure up to this bald banditry.

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