It's a case of the British bulldog pitting itself against the grizzly Russian bear. That's power. Being positioned in the middle of these two was the nocturnal Kiwi who'd run for cover if confronted by either of them but no one would notice.

New Zealand media were invited to the British High Commission for a briefing on what the Brits are calling a state-sponsored attempted assassination attempt by Russia of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

It was a bit like being a character in a John le Carre espionage novel, filing through scanners and being asked to read the health, safety and security measures we had to abide by before we were allowed to enter. Given why we were there they were clearly taking no risks, making us feel a little uneasy.

But in all seriousness the Brits have every reason to feel violated. Nerve gas was used in the relatively small town of Salisbury for the first time in Europe since World War II, a chemical weapon developed by Russian scientists. It'd be like an attack on the city of Whanganui which is around the same size. There's no cause for alarm in Whanganui, unless there are double agents living there.

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That's the point Britain's making, the Russians don't have borders when it goes after traders in their state secrets.

This attack left 24 people suffering the effects, including the former double agent Skripal and his daughter, who're desperately ill, along with a policeman who's fighting for his life.

British Prime Minister Theresa May's given Vladimir Putin's administration until tonight to respond to the accusation, reasoning there are only two explanations for what happened - it was a direct attack by Russia on British soil or they've lost control of the lethal gas which is now in the control of others.

Yeah, well, given the target of the attack the answer's obvious and May's unlikely to get an admission of either from Putin.

So that's why the British have now begun a worldwide offensive to send the bear into hibernation. New Zealand would be expected to join with the international community in any sanctions taken again Russia which would tend to fly in the face of our Foreign Minister Winston Peters' current courtship with Moscow.

When asked about it at the briefing, the British diplomat referred to Peters as the Russian Foreign Minister who has a good understanding of international affairs and shared the UK's values in terms of the rule of law!

She was eventually corrected but insisted it was a slip of the tongue rather than a Freudian one.