Wednesday, March 14, 2018

From Russia with Love, Russian made nerve gas incident backlash sees UK Prime Minister Theresa May kicking out 23 Russian "undeclared intelligence officers in biggest expulsion for 30 over years, I think is safe to assume that the British people aren’t happy, so, can we expect a Russian ‘tit for tat’ war in retaliation or are the Russians’ smart enough to keep their heads down?

Dear All

There you are, you slog your guts out in the Russian Foreign Service then hit the jackpot with a plum posting to the UK, and you think life is great, plenty to see, plenty to do, and you get a chance to do some spying to justify your existence.

Then someone comes along using a Russian-made nerve agent attempts to murder Sergei Skripal and his daughter, and then others get affected and bob’s your uncle, you have a shit storm at your door and you done nothing.

The attempted murder of Sergei Skripal was a big no no, bad concept, bad idea and the kicker, using a Russian-made nerve agent, a receipt for disaster. And that is what we have here, a disaster for the Russians.

The UK is to expel 23 Russian diplomats; they have a week to leave having been identified as "undeclared intelligence officers". As the old saying goes, that’s gotta hurt, after all, most of these people, if not all probably had nothing to do with the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal.

One would imagine that the 23 are feeling hard done by; I know I would in a situation that like, of course, the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats from the UK is necessary. Use of a Russian-made nerve agent isn’t just unacceptable use of force it is squarely in the ball park of terrorism.

Yesterday on twitter, I ventured the notion that if the Russian Ambassador was deported then, he should not go alone on the flight home, there should be lots going with him.

23 Russian diplomats or "undeclared intelligence officers" or spies fit into the category of ‘lots’.

Russia denies being involved in the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal, well they better have a good story on how their military grade Russian-made nerve agent ended up being used in the UK. Can anyone just wander in and pick up nerve gas and sail out the door in Russia? As expected the Russians have adopted the standard and predictable line of ‘not us gov’. The The Russian Embassy said the expulsion of 23 diplomats was "unacceptable, unjustified and short-sighted".

How us?

Having 23 "undeclared intelligence officers" sent home or out the door would only be "unacceptable, unjustified and short-sighted if they had nothing to do with it, but Moscow refuses to explain how a Russian-made nerve agent was used on a former spy in Salisbury.

This is no time to be cute!

To show how serious this situation is and it is serious, The PM also revoked an invitation to Russia's foreign minister, and said the Royal Family would not attend the Fifa World Cup later this year.

Former spy Mr Skripal is 66, and his daughter, Yulia Skripal, 33, remain critically ill, since he was a prisoner exchange, he has no value, killing him is meaningless, at 66 years old, his death serves no purpose. If the Russians had hanged on, natural causes would have done the job for them. As to targeting his daughter, well, that’s rather careless isn’t it, it rather suggests that some people have been watching too many Spy movies and think they are a Russian James Bond.

The PM is sending a strong signal to the Russians which they need to sit up and take notice of, yes, the security services knew of "undeclared intelligence officers"  but as we also have our "undeclared intelligence officers" wandering around Moscow drinking vodka and presumably shagging Russian birds, everyone was pretty much happy.  

Now, the UK is not happy which means:

The expulsion of 23 diplomats - who have one week to leave
Increased checks on private flights, customs and freight
The freezing of Russian state assets where there is evidence they may be used to threaten the life or property of UK nationals or residents
Ministers and Royal Family to boycott the Fifa World Cup in Russia later this year
The suspension of all planned high level bi-lateral contacts between the UK and Russia
Plans to consider new laws to increase defences against "hostile state activity"

I guess, 23 "undeclared intelligence officers" from the UK will be heading home as well, I would assume they are just as unhappy as their Russian counterparts, maybe they bump into each other in Moscow Airport and discuss who was the bastard that fucked it up for all of them.   

The current tact of Moscow is rather stupid, sarcasm, contempt, threats and defiance isn’t the way to go; something appears to have seriously gone wrong on so many levels. It seems that Putin’s Russia is in need of a tune up, the Cold War is over, is there any point in a new one, especially in this day and age. The Wall has come down, the landscape is changed, and we are supposed to be living in an age of co-operation, at least on the surface.

The UK foreign office has updated its advice on travel to Russia, saying "heightened political tensions" mean Britons should "be aware of the possibility of anti-British sentiment or harassment at this time". I think that is code for the Russian State and its various arms, the ordinary Russian is much like your ordinary person anywhere; they don’t have time for this type of crap. The PM says its was "tragic" that Russian President Vladimir Putin had "chosen to act in this way", Putin is ex KGB.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has accused Britain of "playing politics", well have they, the Russian response is not what the people of the UK would expect from them in a matter of such seriousness, murder is never a game and to use a Russian-made nerve agent, that’s called advertising, and in case the ‘dumb’ Brits didn’t get it, RT, the Russian Channel crowing that Britain wasn’t a safe place for spies, well that’s just pouring petrol on an out of control fire. The UK is to brief the UN Security Council on the investigation and also updated Nato's North Atlantic Council. At the meeting, Nato allies expressed "deep concern" at the use of a nerve agent and said it was a "clear breach of international norms and agreements".

Although 23 Russian "undeclared intelligence officers are getting kicked out which will result in a ‘tit for tat’, we should remember that the UK didn’t start this, whoever did this the Russians need to find them and remove them. Skripal came to the UK in 2010 as part of a "spy swap" after he had been convicted by Russia of passing information to MI6, as such he was off limits as was his daughter, a deal was made which has been broken.

Finally; Skripal was no use as an asset or even as a target now, he is a British citizen, by his conviction, the Russians had their victory.

This episode now makes that a loss.

As to those Russian staff in the Embassy in London, well, they can expect to be followed about by the UK Security Services who will be taken a more profound interest in their comings and goings.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University


Al C said...

The idiot Putin government has blown their own foot off. Well, surprise, surprise. That administration still seems to live in the delusion that they're Spectre. How utterly pathetic. Shame, because the Russian civilians themselves are wonderful people when you get to know them properly - at least in my experience!

Anonymous said...

When I first read the story it said it was two junkies overdosed on Fentanyl. This synthetic opioid is so powerful it could be used as a nerve agent. Makes you wonder if this really is fake news and just a reason to punish Russia for killing Isis.

Terry Summers said...

Dear Anon,
Is that you Alec? Is this the line you will take on your RT show?