Russian President Vladimir Putin called Sergei Skripal — the former Russian double agent who was poisoned with a nerve agent in Salisbury, England — "a traitor to the motherland" while addressing an energy conference in Moscow, according to the Financial Times.
"I see that some of your colleagues are pushing the theory that Mr. Skripal is almost some kind of human rights activist. He is just a spy. A traitor to the motherland. There is such a thing — a traitor to the motherland. Here he is — one of them."
Why it matters: The U.K. has accused two alleged Russian military intelligence officers of poisoning Skripal and his daughter last year, and claimed that the operation was almost certainly approved at a senior level of the Kremlin. Up until now, Putin's strategy for dealing with the diplomatic fallout has largely been to deny that Russia or the accused men had any role in the attack, insisting that the U.K. has no evidence for its claims.