Introduction — March 12, 2018
Relations between Russia and Britain are at their lowest point in decades after the attempted poisoning of Russian defector Sergei Skripal and his daughter.
The “evidence” linking Russia with the poisoning rest on a class of chemical agents called Novichoks, traces of which were found at the restaurant where they last ate in Salisbury. Military grade nerve agents developed by the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 80s, Novichoks are virtually undetectable and capable of penetrating NATO protective gear.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has demanded an explanation from the Russian ambassador as to why traces of the nerve agent were found in Salisbury; warning that if the ambassador is unable to provide a “credible response” further measures against Russia will be considered.
This may result in sanctions or trade embargoes. However, it needs to emphasised that absolutely no evidence showing that Putin approved the poisoning has been revealed. Or indeed that Russian intelligence was even involved.
All claims of Russian involvement hinge on the use of Novichok.
Moreover, the poisoning could just as easily have been the work of a renegade faction within Russian intelligence, who sought to take revenge on a traitor. Or, and the corporate media avoid speculating about this, the nerve agent could have been manufactured by the British themselves.
After all, how is the layman to know whether a chemical warfare agent has been concocted in a British or Russian chemical warfare lab? The formulas for the various Novichok agents are not an exclusively Russian secret. The U.S. and the UK also know how to make them. We have to rely on the word of “experts” as to their origin.
In this regard it maybe no coincidence that Britain’s main chemical warfare laboratory is conveniently situated a few miles from the site of the poisoning in Salisbury at Porton Down.
Moreover, if this was a false flag conducted by British intelligence it provides Theresa May with ample justification for intensifying what is rapidly developing into a new Cold War with Russia.
Accusations of Russia’s involvement in this episode echo earlier claims about Saddam’s WMD. Such claims paved the way for the invasion of Iraq, where it was discovered that Saddam didn’t have any WMD after all. By which time, of course, it was too late; the disinformation had had the desired effect and the invasion and a bloody occupation were already underway.
The West cannot afford to repeat the same charade with Russia. If it does the consequences will be infinitely more serious.
Russia has responded by calling the British claims a “circus show” and a “fairy tale”. Nonetheless, Britain seems intent on some sort of confrontation with Russia and unless it is careful, America could find itself dragged in alongside. Ed.
Russia highly likely to be behind poisoning of spy, says Theresa May
Anushka Asthana, Andrew Roth and Luke Harding — The Guardian March 12, 2018
Theresa May has said it is “highly likely” that Russia was responsible for the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in Salisbury and warned that her government will not tolerate such a “brazen attempt to murder innocent civilians on our soil”.
In a statement to the House of Commons after chairing a meeting of the national security council, the prime minister said the evidence had shown that Skripal had been targeted by a “military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia”. She said the substance was from a group known as Novichok.
“Based on the positive identification of this chemical agent by world-leading experts at Porton Down, our knowledge that Russia has previously produced this agent and would still be capable of doing so, Russia’s record of conducting state-sponsored assassinations, and our assessment that Russia views some defectors as legitimate targets for assassinations, the government has concluded that it is highly likely that Russia was responsible for the act against Sergei and Yulia Skripal,” she said.
The prime minister said that left just two plausible explanations for what happened in Salisbury.
“Either this was a direct act by the Russian state against our country. Or the Russian government lost control of this potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others.”
She said that the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, had summoned the Russian ambassador to find out which was the correct conclusion and therefore account for how the nerve agent had been deployed. The UK government demanded a response by the end of Tuesday, she added.
However, May made clear that she believed there was already “a backdrop of a well-established pattern of Russian state aggression” – listing the illegal annexation of Crimea, violating the airspace of European countries, and a “sustained campaign of cyber-espionage and disruption”
“This has included meddling in elections, and hacking the Danish ministry of defence and the Bundestag, among many others.”
She also spoke of the extrajudicial killing of terrorists and dissidents outside Russia – and the murder of Alexander Litvinenko.
The government would consider Russia’s response on Wednesday, she said.
“Should there be no credible response, we will conclude that this action amounts to an unlawful use of force by the Russian state against the United Kingdom,” she said, promising to return to the house with a full range of responsive measures.
“This attempted murder using a weapons-grade nerve agent in a British town was not just a crime against the Skripals.
“It was an indiscriminate and reckless act against the United Kingdom, putting the lives of innocent civilians at risk. And we will not tolerate such a brazen attempt to murder innocent civilians on our soil. I commend this statement to the House.”