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The Editors

The West's Skripal Response Must Go Beyond Theater

Expelling a lot of diplomats shows solidarity, but exerts too little pressure.
Polite protests aren't enough.

Polite protests aren't enough.

Photographer: Jack Taylor/Getty Images

The coordinated expulsion of nearly 140 Russian diplomats by more than 20 countries is no small thing. It's probably a stronger response to his latest provocation than President Vladimir Putin was expecting, and you'd have to go back to the height of the Cold War to find a comparable Western reaction. Even so, it's too mild.

The move follows the poisoning in Britain of former Russian double-agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia with a banned nerve agent that U.K. authorities say could have come only from a state weapons facility in Russia. British officials say the attack exposed as many as 130 people to the chemical, and 50 needed hospital treatment.