Military personnel in protective suits investigate the poisoning of Sergei Skripal on March 11, 2018, in Salisbury, England. Photo: Chris J. Ratcliffe via Getty Images

The poisoning of ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal in the United Kingdom represents an alarming new attack in Russia’s unconventional war on the West. Skripal’s poisoning follows the mysterious death in December 2016 of another former spy, Oleg Erovinkin, in Moscow, who was later reported to have been a source for the Trump "dossier."

Between the lines: The Kremlin used the nerve agent Novichok as a calling card to signal that it can act with impunity and to scare off anyone contemplating disclosure of sensitive information about Russia's "active measures" against the West.

Why it matters: Not only does this attempted assassination violate all norms of international behavior, it also breaks unwritten rules of spycraft holding that a formal exchange of agents precludes further retribution. In spite of President Trump's predictable equivocation regarding Russia's complicity, the UK and NATO response to this escalation of Russia's hybrid war must be swift and forceful.

Michael Carpenter is senior director of the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement and a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia.

Go deeper

Updated 36 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 1:30 a.m. ET: 32,995,554 — Total deaths: 996,695 — Total recoveries: 22,850,774Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 1:30 a.m. ET: 7,115,008 — Total deaths: 204,756 — Total recoveries: 2,766,280 — Total tests: 101,298,794Map.
  3. States: 3 states set single-day coronavirus case records last week
  4. Health: The long-term pain of the mental health pandemic
  5. World: India second country after U.S. to surpass 6 million cases

Democrats demand Trump release his tax returns after NYT report

Compilation images of House Nancy Pelosi and President Trump. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Democrats called on President Trump to disclose his tax returns following a New York Times report alleging he paid $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017 and nothing in 10 of the past 15 years.

Details: Trump said the report was "total fake news," that he's unable to release the returns as they're "under audit" by the IRS, "which does not treat me well." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement the report "provides further evidence of the clear need" for a House lawsuit to access the tax returns and "ensure the presidential audit program is functioning effectively, without improper influence."

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale hospitalized

Brad Parscale, the former campaign manager for President Trump's re-election campaign, at Drake University in January in Des Moines, Iowa. Photo: Tom Brenner/Getty Images

Fort Lauderdale police arrived at former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale's home on Sunday after his wife called and said he was threatening to harm himself, Florida officials confirmed to Axios.

Details: Fort Lauderdale Police Sgt. DeAnna Greenlaw told Axios officers responded to a report of "an armed male attempting suicide" just before 4 p.m. local time.