Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Russian to judgement

On Monday, the British prime minister, Theresa May, accused Russia of attacking Sergei Skripal and his daughter with a nerve agent, even though it was clear from what she said that she did not know that the Russian government was responsible. The only evidence she referred to was the claimed fact that the nerve agent was of "a type" developed by the Soviet Union. On this basis, she gave the Russian government until midnight on Tuesday to provide a "credible answer" - ie, prove its innocence. She further asserted that absent such a credible response, she would announce consequences on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, an assistant police commissioner, responsible for the investigation of the Skripal case, gave a press briefing. At the briefing he made it perfectly plain that the authorities do not know who attacked Mr Skripal. Indeed, he stated that they do not have any persons of interest, let alone suspects. He also stated that he expected the investigation to take many weeks, at least.

Nevertheless, this (Wednesday) afternoon, Theresa May made a statement to parliament in which she claimed that Russia was responsible for the poisoning of Mr Skripal and his daughter. She announced a number of retaliatory measures, including the expulsion of twenty-three Russian diplomats, who she claimed had been identified as spies. She also announced the suspension of bi-lateral contacts. She also said that the royal family and government ministers would boycott the football world cup, which is being held in Russia this summer. She stated that Russian state assets would be frozen where there is evidence (sic - I suspect this concern with evidence is merely rhetorical) that they may be used to threaten the life or property of British nationals or residents. May threatened further measures should Russia engage in future provocations.

Mrs May's statement was met with broad approval be the elected representatives of the British people. Indeed, many members clearly wished to see more radical measures taken. Vince Cable, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, for example, took the opportunity to sing the praises of Navalney and demand that the prime minister seize the assets of his opponents - a naked call for meddling in the domestic politics of a foreign country, something Cable is supposedly opposed to. Other members of the House called on May to ensure that this country, and the European Union, stops buying Russian energy - a measure that would obviously be contrary to the interests of the British people.

Indeed, the elected representatives of the British people seem to have collectively forgotten that they are elected to represent the people of Britain. It seems they have become unhinged by the frenzy of Russophobia they and the corporate media have been so tirelessly propagating for so long. Apparently, threatening a nuclear power, on the basis of zero evidence, has now become what passes for sound diplomacy in the British political media elite. We have seen such rushes to judgement in the past. The case of then prime minister, Tony Blair, telling parliament and the country that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction that it could unleash on Britain within forty-five minutes and that there was therefore no alternative but to invade springs to mind. It took many years before the political media elite realised that it had been wrong, but by then the damage had been done.

The Russophobic political media elite are set on a course of action that can only make the world less safe and secure. Theresa May (possibly due to her weak position) has behaved in a completely irresponsible manner. Instead of calming the situation, waiting for the evidence, engaging in appropriate diplomacy and observing the Convention on Chemical Weapons, she has played to the most base instincts of the Russophobes, ratcheting up tensions and the risk of war. Theresa May's actions in this matter are both cowardly and dangerous in equal measure.


  1. Dear Steve,
    It is always an delight, to read someone's intelligent view about an object. What I like on your "Russian to judgment" is your clear analytical thoughts and most important you leave the door open for the possibility, that the Russian may be mixed up in the whole situation. Now, I don't believe, that is the case and I'm delighted, that you are not one of those individuals, for which the world exist only in ( Black-White, Good- Bad, For me-against me!!!!, etc.) Thank you again and I wish you all the best.

    1. Thank you Walti for your gracious comment.