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Russiagate Comes to England

• http://www.unz.com

I don't know what happened in Salisbury England on March 4th, but it appears that the British government doesn't know either. Prime Minister Theresa May's speech before Parliament last Monday was essentially political, reflecting demands that she should "do something" in response to the mounting hysteria over the poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. After May's presentation there were demands from Parliamentarians for harsh measures against Russia, reminiscent of the calls for action emanating from the U.S. Congress over the allegations relating to what has been called Russiagate.

This demand to take action led to a second Parliamentary address by May on Wednesday in which she detailed the British response to the incident, which included cutting off all high-level contacts between Moscow and London and the "persona non grata" (PNG) expulsion of 23 "spies" and intelligence officers working out of the Russian Federation Embassy. The expulsions will no doubt produce a tit-for-tat PNG from Moscow, ironically crippling or even eliminating the MI-6 presence and considerably reducing Britain's own ability to understand what it going on in the Kremlin.

May, who referred to a "Russian mafia state," has blamed Moscow for the attack even though she made plain in her first speech that the investigation was still underway. In both her presentations, she addressed the issue of motive by citing her belief that the attempted assassination conforms with an established pattern of Russian behavior. She did not consider that Vladimir Putin's government would have no good reason to carry out an assassination that surely would be attributed to it, particularly as it was on the verge of national elections and also, more important, because it will be hosting the World Cup later this year and will be highly sensitive to threats of boycott. And it must be observed that Skripal posed no active threat to the Russian government. He has been living quietly in Britain for eight years, leading to wild tabloid press speculation that the Kremlin's motive must have been to warn potential traitors that there are always consequences, even years later and in a far-off land.

To provide additional buttressing of what is a questionable thesis, the case of the assassination of Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006 has been repeatedly cited by the media on both sides of the Atlantic as evidence of Russian turpitude, but the backstory is not the same. Litvinenko was an FSB officer who fled to the United Kingdom to avoid prosecution in Russia. In Britain, he became a whistleblower and author, exposing numerous alleged Russian government misdeeds. Would the Kremlin have been motivated to kill him? He was seen as a traitor and a continuing threat through his books and speeches, so it is certainly possible. The story of Skripal was, however, completely different. He was a double agent working for Britain who was arrested and imprisoned in 2006. He was released and traveled to the UK after a 2010 spy swap was arranged by Washington and his daughter has been able to travel freely from Moscow to visit him. If the Russian government had wanted to kill him, they could have easily done so while he was in prison, or they could have punished him by taking steps against his daughter.

There are a number of problems with the accepted narrative as presented by May and the media. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a nerve agent as "usually odorless organophosphate (such as sarin, tabun, or VX) that disrupts the transmission of nerve impulses by inhibiting cholinesterase and especially acetylcholinesterase and is used as a chemical weapon in gaseous or liquid form," while Wikipedia explains that it is "a class of organic chemicals that disrupt the mechanisms by which nerves transfer messages to organs." A little more research online reveals that most so-called nerve agents are chemically related. So when Theresa May says that the alleged agent used against the Skripals as being "of a type" associated with a reported Russian-developed chemical weapon called Novichok that was produced in the 1970s and 1980s, she is actually conceding that her own chemical weapons laboratories at Porton Down are, to a certain, extent, guessing at the provenance and characteristics of the actual agent that might or might not have been used in Salisbury.

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