Britain and Russia are having a row (rhymes with “cow”) over the latter’s refusal to turn over suspects in the radiation poisoning death of KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko. (Who knew the life of a spy could be dangerous?) Litvinenko, a critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, died in a London hospital, and may have unknowingly exposed others to deadly radiation.
To protest the Kremlin’s obstinacy, Britain has expelled four Russian diplomats. In the big playground that is international relations, offenses are often returned in kind. Russia will surely be retaliating for Britain’s “provocative” act soon.
Embassies are considered a territory of their occupant’s country, even though they may be smack-dab in the middle of another country 6,000 miles away. The United Nations building is considered international territory, as if it were located in the open ocean, even though it’s in New York City.
I understand the reasons for respecting a country’s embassy as private property. But this “foreign soil” thing just seems like a game of “let’s pretend” to me. And these expulsions point to why.
If a Russian diplomat is in his embassy (aka sovereign territory) in the UK, how can the UK kick him out of their country? Is an embassy foreign soil or not? Make up your minds and get back to me.