While I hesitate to do so, I must take issue with the take of James Poulos on the Litvinenko affair. [...] Someone must speak the Derbyshirean hard truth here, which is that someone who makes a name for himself as a defector and associate of a man loathed and wanted on criminal charges in Russia, and as a tacit apologist for the Chechen cause, just is liable to get whacked on someone's orders - or even by freelancers or rogues. Contrary to the idea that the Russian policy, whoever applied it in this case, was unduly concerned with one man, that policy was very much concerned with an entire nation: the pet causes of the West have no purchase in any corridors of power, because they are bad for Russia. -- John Martin (Maximos), WWWtW
I did make the assumption that "the Russians" ordered Litvinenko's death, and I insinuated (but only insinuated) that 'the' Russians who did so were carrying out an element of Russian foreign policy. I agree with JM(M) that much in Russia that would seem 'official' under Western circumstances actually is not, and vice versa.
But I'm not sure this at all dilutes my main point -- namely, that Litvinenko was indeed "whacked on someone's orders," that only an idiot could believe those somebodies were not powerful Russians, and that Britain erred not in the slightest by reminding the Kremlin that, regardless of how they do things at home or in the rest of the world, transnational hit jobs involving anti-Putin Russians are not to be conducted on British soil and will be treated as the responsibility of the Russian government to prevent. The idea that Chechnya is still a sore spot is compelling, but the notion that the British should have shown some restraint because of it is not.
In the end the question is whether the onus is on a country -- Britain, which had just unwillingly hosted a high-profile, exceedingly clumsy, and distressingly inventive assassination -- to figure out precisely how 'official' of a killing it was, or whether, in fact, the onus is on the country -- Russia, from which both perpetrators and victim had come -- to deal with the fallout when the host country rebukes them for an all too useful lack of oversight.