I’ve read a few places speculating as to what Putin’s motivation for trying to kill Skripal might be, and a common one is this (the whole thread is very good and worth a read, it’s just this bit I take issue with):
The Russians have proven past form with these compounds. Then we can triangulate the motive and opportunity against the means. The motive was to send a clear message to Russians at home that opposing Putin was high risk 9/
— Clyde Davies (@deadlyvices) March 15, 2018
Ever since Mikhail Khodorkovsky was arrested, tried, and jailed everyone in Russia got the message loud and clear that Putin’s hold on power was not to be challenged. When I lived in Russia 2006-10, it was an established fact that you didn’t mess with the FSB, and Putin ruled supreme. Since then, we’ve seen the assassination of Boris Nemtsov and the arrest and constant harassment of Alexei Navalny – both prominent critics of Putin and potential political challengers.
Putin is undoubtedly facing threats from within his circle and those just outside it, some of which he may not even know about. But anyone who fancies their chances will know beyond doubt that should they challenge his rule, they will be arrested and thrown in jail or killed. The idea that Putin had Skripal killed in order to send a message to Russians that opposing him is high risk is nonsensical: that message has been well understood by any Russian with a pulse since at least 2008, and it didn’t need reinforcing, and certainly not in a way which causes a diplomatic rift with Britain. If Putin did order this hit, it wasn’t for this reason.