According to the Washington Examiner, skeletal remains found within a torched car in the British crown territory of Guernsey are believed to be Mikus Alps, a pro-Ukraine Latvian who fought against Russia's invasion of south-east portion of the country and was reportedly assisting the continued fight against Russian-aligned forces.
[A]ccording to Mikus Alps' volunteer friends, he had suffered escalating threats in recent months. In addition, according to Ukrainian press reports, Alps was providing cars to Ukrainian forces fighting the Russian-aligned rebels.
This establishes the motive for a Russian assassination: the Russian intelligence services work persistently to coerce individuals against opposing Putin's interests in Ukraine. While most of this activity is carried through via threat, it also takes the form of assassinations in Ukraine.
The Examiner points to several indicators that this was a Russian hit, though no firm conclusions have been announced by law enforcement:
- The degree of damage to the vehicle and limited remains indicate the fire set was intense, beyond what one might expect from run-of-the-mill thugs.
- The victim was placed in the driver's seat, rather than simply thrown into the back: "That reeks of Russian intelligence's particular fetish for what might be called their pageantry of death. Rather than simply eliminating a target, the Russians like to send aggressive messages as they do so."
- Alps was likely dead before the fire was lit: "a Guernsey government spokesman told the Washington Examiner that there is no evidence that the victim had been bound to the steering wheel."
The death comes after a recent vow by the British government to further suppress Russian intelligence operations within the U.K.
This represents a significant challenge to the relative ease with which Russian intelligence officers, agents, and interests have pursued their ambitions in Britain in recent years. This killing might be a Russian message to London: "We are undeterred."