A large and important slice of the world’s governments—led by the British—have inflicted severe diplomatic damage on the Russians because of the British allegation that Moscow attempted to murder a Russian double agent and his daughter on British soil with the nerve agent Novichok.
The Conservative government of Theresa May is utterly convinced that Putin’s Moscow is behind the attack. It persuaded 24 other countries – and NATO headquarters—of the veracity of their case to the extent that they have all joined in expelling Russian diplomats.
But they have failed to persuade Opposition Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn or Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbot. The Socialist duo recently leaped on a slip by error-prone Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to revive the reasonable doubt alternative.
The slip involves the investigations by Britain’s Porton Down Chemical Weapons Establishment which identified the nerve agent used against Sergei and Yulia Skripal. The chief executive of Porton Down, Gary Aitkenhead, told Sky News: “We have not verified the precise source” of the nerve agent. This contradicts Boris Johnson’s interview with a German journalist in which he said that Porton Down had unequivocally identified the source as Russian.
IF (and it is an extremely big IF) the Russians are innocent, then British credibility will nosedive. Putin will be king of the roost. Boris Johnson would almost certainly resign. Mrs. May’s weak government would be dealt a severe blow halfway through Brexit negotiations and 24 other countries will have diplomatic egg on their faces because they trusted her.
But all is not lost for the Brits. The Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is conducting its own investigation which it is hoped will back British claims. In the meantime, The Russians have convened a meeting of the UN Security Council to protest their innocence and probably repeat their claims that the Salisbury attack was “a grotesque provocation rudely staged by British and American intelligence.
Russian cries of foul; another slip-up by banana skin Boris and the Labour Party’s willingness to put its head on the chopping block warrant the re-examination of the evidence, starting with the question of detectives through the ages: Did the Russians have the means, opportunity, and motive? Unfortunately, the answer for Putin and his supporters is a resounding yes.
Novichok was produced by the Soviet Union between 1971-1993. There are several levels of weapon grade Novichok. They are called Novichok, 5,7,8, and 9. It was grade nine—the powdered variety—that was used against Sergei Skripal and his daughter. Russia denies that the Soviet Union ever developed the nerve agent. This is a lie. Several Russian chemists have blown the whistle on Moscow
Now, how about opportunity? According to Russian chemists, Novichok was developed to be the deadliest chemical weapon and the safest to handle. This means that it could have been removed from the production facility at Shikhany, placed in a suitcase and safely flown Moscow to Salisbury.
Next, we look at motive. Sergei Skripal was a Russian traitor who went to prison and was provided with a new life in Britain after being exchanged for Russian spies held by the US. Putin has said: “Traitors will kick the bucket, trust me. These people betrayed their friends and brothers in arms. Whatever they got in exchange for it, those 30 pieces of silver they were given, they will choke on them.”
British intelligence is currently investigating the deaths of another 14 Russian dissidents in the UK. It has been conclusively proven that Russian agents used deadly polonium to murder Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko in London. Putin denies this. He also denies meddling in the US presidential elections, green men in Ukraine, cyberattacks on the Baltic States, shooting down the Malaysian airliner and bombing aid convoys in Syria.
Is Putin following the example of Adolf Hitler, who said: “If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.”
Tom Arms is editor of Lookaheadnews.com