Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Did Vladimir Putin Just Admit Russian Responsibility for the Novichok Poisonings in England's Green and Pleasant Land?

As anyone visiting here on a more or less regular basis will know, we have written a number of posts about the Novichok poisonings in England of the Russian traitor, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter Julia, and also the British citizens, Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess.

Throughout, we have been skeptical of the British position that the poisonings were perpetrated by the Russian state, roused to seek vengeance against Skripal, despite having formerly pardoned him in connection with a spy swap. Rather, it seemed to us more probable that the poisonings were a charade undertaken by British security services as means to stoke public antipathy toward Russia.

Our assessment has now to be questioned in light of Vladimir Putin's remarks on the case that were addressed to former UK Prime Minister Teresa May during the recent G20 summit.

Specifically, Putin said:

“Treason is the gravest crime possible and traitors must be punished. I am not saying the Salisbury incident is the way to do it, but traitors must be punished.”
Sounds pretty much like a confession of Russian responsibility to me, which in itself, makes the statement remarkable. But if it is a confession, it raises the question: for what was Sergei Skripal being punished? Not presumably, for the treasonous acts for which he was formerly convicted, jailed and subsequently pardoned.

The Russian State English Language broadcaster, RT, puts some spin on Putin's comment, stating:

At the same time, [Putin] made it clear that the poisoning of the former double agent Sergei Skirpal and his daughter Yulia, which took place in the British town of Salisbury back in March 2018 and was blamed on Russia by London, is definitely “not the way to do it.”

The president explained that the former Russian intelligence colonel already received his punishment under Russian law as he served his time in prison and was therefore “off the radar.”

He reiterated that this whole affair had little to do with Russia, while maintaining that London has failed to present any sufficient proof of Moscow’s alleged guilt to the public till this day.
Which, does not, it seems to me, settle the matter. Putin has exceptional skill in the diplomatic use of words, and RT's spin does little negate what seems the most plausible interpretation of his comment.

However, it is possible that Putin's statement was, in fact, a taunt, a taunt based on the knowledge, shared with Theresa May to whom his remark was addressed, that Sergei Skripal was a triple agent, who, having moved to England, ostensibly to continue in the service of the British to whom he had betrayed Russia, was in fact, acting in the service of Russia.

It might well then have been that his allegiance to Russia, having been discovered by the Brits, became the justification for a British charade intended to demonize Russia. That would explain the look of disgust, or is it despair, on Theresa May's face, during her interaction with Putin at the G20 Tokyo summit.

One hopes that Rob Slane, former UK Ambassador Craig Murray, and others who have been skeptical of the official British narrative of this peculiar case will offer their perspective on Putin's comment.

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