In the past in our nuclear armed world, when tensions between the acknowledged nuclear powers ramped up, diplomats from both sides earned their salaries.
So, a known Russian double-agent, who provided MI6 with the names of many Russian spies that subsequently were murdered, was one of Moscow’s prisoners deployed in an exchange with the West. Sergei Skripal was allowed to leave Russia and settled in the UK after weeks of debriefing from his MI6 handlers. There is nothing strange or unique about that and it has happened loads of times during the Cold War.
But then this double agent is attacked with a chemical nerve agent called, “Novichoks,” in leafy Salisbury and both he and his daughter are still in intensive care as I write. By-standers are injured also and Teresa May is outraged. On the surface of it then, this is a classic example of tensions between the acknowledged nuclear powers ramped up to the point where diplomats from both sides should earn their money. Instead, after a very short time, Prime Minister May has ordered 23 Russian diplomats to be expelled and Moscow has promised a similar response. And why has nobody asked what Sergei Skripal was up to lately to attract this type of attention from anybody?
Moscow has denied involvement and the Russian Embassy in the UK said, “No one knows anything, including Theresa May, who has no actual facts in her hands,” Not unreasonably the Russian side has asked for the evidence to be shared with them, or for a neutral international agency to examine and review it. London has mysteriously dismissed this. Why? If May is so sure it was a Russian action, why does she not show the world the proof? In the absence of that, we are asked to have faith that the British Government is telling the truth and I, for one, am skeptical. At its simplest, this could turn out to be a murder case so what was the motive. Why would Moscow pick this point in time to commit a reckless act and expose themselves to the fallout? If they had wanted Sergei Skripal dead, they had him in prison long enough to kill him easily. And then how did they smuggle such a deadly toxin past British ports? How was it administered and by whom? Was it not a danger to the potential assassin also? Most importantly, how are the British so sure that this is actually Novichoks and it originated in Russia in the first place, never mind that it was Russians who carried out the attack? And how were they able to reach their conclusion so quickly?
I am grateful to former British diplomat Craig Murray for his article entitled, “The Novichok Story Is Indeed Another Iraqi WMD Scam.” It is a long piece but he summerises it as follows.
1) Porton Down, (eight miles from the attack and the largest store of chemical weapons in Europe), has acknowledged in publications that it has never seen any Russian “novichoks”. The UK government has absolutely no “fingerprint” information such as impurities that can safely attribute this substance to Russia.
2) Until now, neither Porton Down nor the world’s experts at the Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) were convinced “Novichoks” even exist.
3) The UK is refusing to provide a sample to the OPCW.
4) “Novichoks” were specifically designed to be able to be manufactured from common ingredients on any scientific bench. The Americans dismantled and studied the facility that allegedly developed them. It is completely untrue only the Russians could make them, if anybody can.
5) The “Novichok” programme was in Uzbekistan not in Russia. Its legacy was inherited by the Americans during their alliance with Karimov, not by the Russians.
We must remember that Teresa May said only that, “It is highly likely that the Russians are responsible.” In the absence of concrete evidence though, this is just an opinion. This has not stopped the NATO allies later chiming in that they ‘believe’ the British as well. Note that they don’t have irrefutable evidence either. It is a most dangerous example of ‘the accusation becoming the conviction,’ and is the kind of thing that would never have happened in the more enlightened times of the past. This is, in my opinion, potentially the most serious incident for all of the citizens of the world since 9/11. Russia possesses a hugely potent nuclear deterrent capable of destroying all life on earth many times over. So does the USA so why are certain parties provoking stand-offs and confrontation when we know that neither party will stand down and lose face, (as they see it). Remember mutually assured destruction, (MAD), well it is still with us today as we expel diplomats rather than get them working to diffuse the situation.
But I cannot see a motivation for Moscow to carry out this action on British soil because they have nothing to gain and so much to lose in a World Cup year and Putin has shown he is no fool. But then also, I wonder at what the British gain by insulting and goading the Russians? What benefit is bestowed on British citizens by making an enemy of the second most powerful superpower on earth based on supposed evidence they will not share with anybody.
To quote Medium.com, “The British government’s line has been chorused uncritically by the entire global press corps, with little scrutiny of its plausibility. But there is a problem: far from offering a clear-cut evidence-trail to Vladimir Putin’s chemical warfare labs, the use of Novichok in the nerve gas attack on UK soil points to a wider set of potential suspects, of which Russia is in fact the least likely.” Nafeez Ahmed, Investigative journalist, notes that, “The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, (OPCW), reports on Russia confirm that the agency found no evidence of the existence of an active Novichok programme. It should be noted that Dr. Robin M. Black, formerly of Porton Down’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, sits on the Scientific Advisory Board of the OPCW. And a scientific review by Dr. Black also raised doubts about Novichok, noting that its properties and structures had not been independently confirmed. So in short, the OPCW does not agree with the vague US and British insistence that Russia failed to declare all its chemical weapons stockpiles and facilities, and does not agree with the insistence that Novichok stockpiles or production facilities still exist in Russia.” And as Craig Murray showed, “Novichoks” were specifically designed to be able to be manufactured from common ingredients on any scientific bench.” Novichoks means ‘newcomer in Uzbek. It is a breed of new weapon rather than a single entity. But when the USSR collapsed and Yanks flooded in there, “The Americans were involved in the dismantlement of Russia’s remaining Novichok capabilities.
In August 1999, as the BBC reported, US defence experts arrived in Uzbekistan to help “dismantle and decontaminate one of the former Soviet Union’s largest chemical weapons testing facilities.” The facility was known as “a major research site for a new generation of secret, highly lethal chemical weapons, known as Novichok”, and provided the US ample opportunity to learn about this nerve agent and reproduce it for testing and defence purposes.”
So officially, the Russians don’t have any Novichok but the ‘allies’ have had the original recipes for it for years and have most probably made test stocks of it to develop antidotes. The absence of motive for Moscow to pull of this Salisbury stunt leads me to wonder, who would profit from reprisals against Russia right now? Think Syria and Iran! Russia has all but defeated a loose rabble of Arab extremists who were acting as a proxy army in Syria for the Americans, which in turn was for the benefit of the Israelis. Jerusalem wants Assad deposed and assassinated much like Gaddafi and Saddam. If they can get the Yanks to destroy and partition Syria and put a puppet in charge in Syria, the clever money is on Israel then invading Lebanon yet again to root out Hamas and Hizbollah. More importantly for Israel though is their desire, once Syria is in ruins, for the Americans to bomb Iran back to the stone age. Since 9/11, if you think about it, the Yanks have done everything the Israelis have wanted them to do. For me, the attack in Salisbury is to Israel’s advantage more than any other country. It is part of their drive to get the Russians out of Syria and pave the way for the Americans to act.
To further develop this angle, check this out. “INSURGE reported on an extensive US Army study published last year which not only stated quite unequivocally that NATO expansionism is the main driver of Russian belligerence, but that NATO’s main interest has always been to rollback Russia’s regional influence so that the West can dominate Central Asian natural resources and oil pipeline routes. The document recommended that in 2018, the US should consider pursuing a concerted covert “information” campaign to undermine Putin, (Army document: US strategy to ‘dethrone’ Putin for oil pipelines might provoke WW3.).
To quote Nafeez Ahmed again, “The actual history of Novichok shows that out of the countries discussed here, Russia is the only state to have been certified by the OPCW as having destroyed its chemical weapons programme, including its nerve agent capabilities. The OPCW found no evidence to indicate that Russia retains an active Novichok capability. The same is not the case for the US, Britain and Israel. There is no legitimate reason for the British authorities to rule out that any of these states could have at the very least ‘lost control’ of their nerve agent stockpiles. The fact that the government chose, instead, to shut down all avenues of inquiry other than to claim falsely that the “only possibility” is for all roads to lead to Russia, demonstrates that we are almost certainly in the midst of a concerted state propaganda operation. It may turn out that Russia did indeed carry out the Novichok attack. But at this time, the British state has no real basis to presume this. Which implies that the state has already decided that it wants to manufacture a path to heightened hostilities with Russia, regardless of the evidence. And that does not bode well.”
As an example of the potential of all of this, Yahoo News quotes Newsweek with a headline earlier today which read, “Russia Says it Will Attack U.S. Military if Trump Strikes Syria Again.” After World War 1 and again after World War 2, ordinary people wondered just how the hell the whole thing had got so out of hand to bring such a calamity. It was series of simple events, one-after-the-other, which lead to the point where one or the other party had to back down or else go to total war. What do you think will happen if the Russians do attack the US military in Syria? Do you think the Yanks will just pull out? Do you think if they respond in kind the Russians will take that lying down? I don’t! It will quickly escalate to a global inferno and none of us will ever remember why.
Finally, the view from Moscow is understandably different to what we are hearing and seeing. I suggest you watch this Crosstalk programme entitled, “CrossTalk on Sergei Skripal: ‘Publicity Murder?’ to get what the Russians think of it all and note their amazed confusion.