Russia: What will happen next? Probably nothing.
by Matt Coot
On 4th March 2018, Novichok (a nerve agent) was used in an attempted assassination attempt on a former Russian spy and his daughter. Sergei Skripal and Yulia Skirpal were both exposed to the nerve agent in Salisbury, Wiltshire. The investigation into the attack has been happening since the two were found slumped on a bench.
Colonel Sergei Skripal was a Russian intelligence agent, who was believed to be a double agent for the UK. He was accused of passing Russian secrets to MI6, including the identities of Russian intelligence agents working undercover in Europe. In 2016, he was convicted and jailed for 13 years by Russia. Four years later, he was one of four prisoners who was used in a trade in exchange for 10 Russian spies that the FBI had arrested. Skripal has been living in Salisbury ever since his release.
Yulia Skripal – the Colonel’s daughter – lives in Moscow but regularly travels to Salisbury to visit her father. This was one of those visits.
Use of nerve agents is strictly forbidden under the Geneva Convention and other international laws.
Today, Prime Minister Theresa May announced to Parliament that it was “highly likely” that the “military-grade nerve agent” originated in Russia. That it was a Russian manufactured nerve agent. She suggested two scenarios: either Russia was behind the attack or they were negligent in securing the nerve agent so that it was stolen and used by a third party.
I’m pretty certain this news came as no surprise to anybody who had been following these events. Also, Vladimir Putin isn’t exactly a stranger to state-sponsored assassinations. Even before he was the leader of the country, when he was the leader of the Russian intelligence agency, FSB (between 1998 and 1999), he boasted of operations done on foreign soil as punishment against wrongdoers. So, this attack, perpetrated on foreign soil – against someone who Putin may have wanted to punish – wouldn’t exactly be unusual for Putin. In fact, it sounds right up his street.
So now, the question begs to be asked, if it was a state-sponsored assassination attempt sanctioned by Vladimir Putin, then where will this lead? What will happen next? What will the Conservative Government do now?
Honestly, it is my opinion that they will probably do nothing.
At least, nothing of significance on the same level as the use of a deadly weapon in a city of a foreign nation.
Why will nothing happen? Well, let me explore some facts with you and see if we can analyse why this is a difficult position for Theresa May to find herself in.
Evidence of Tory Links with Russia
During all that time that the Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn of the Labour Party, has been accused of being a former Soviet spy and being “friendly” and “collaborating” with Russia (despite there being no evidence), there has been strong evidence of a link between the Russian government and the Conservative Party. You see, the political party leading the country where this deadly attack has taken place, has had donations from individuals and organisations who have very strong links to the Kremlin. These donations are on record with the electoral commission.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Phillip Hammond, has confirmed that none of the money, from donors who have these strong links to the Kremlin, will be returned. This is despite Theresa May promising, when she became Prime Minister, that the party would be distancing themselves from Russian donors. Except, this hasn’t happened, and it seems this won’t be happening now despite the unprecedented international crisis that is unravelling.
Between January and September 2017, Lubov Chernukhin, wife of a former Russian deputy finance minister, Vladimir Chernukhin, who had been nicknamed “Putin’s Banker”, had given the Conservative Party £253,950. This included a donation of £30,000 to dine with Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson. She has also donated £20,000 to dine with the Scottish Conservative Leader, Ruth Davidson. When David Cameron was the prime minister, Lubov Chernukhin paid £160,000 for the privilege of playing tennis with Cameron and Boris Johnson.
A British PR company, New Century Media, is contracted by the Russian government. Their task is to manage a campaign to present a “positive image” of Russia to the UK. This company, with very obvious and very strong links to the Russian government, have donated more than £143,000 to the Conservative Party. This figure included more than £24,000 since Theresa May has been the prime minister. In April 2016, they also donated another £400,000. So, in total, £543,000 has been donated to the political party running the government of the country from a company representing the Russian government.
Theresa May promised to distance her party from Russian donors. She broke that promise. She lied.
It would be bad enough if Colonel Skripal and his daughter were the only victims, but there’s a police detective sergeant in a serious condition after helping the father and daughter. We also have FIVE HUNDRED people warned to thoroughly wash their belongings to ensure they are not at risk of succumbing to the nerve agent. If the nerve agent is found to have been an attack sanctioned by the Russian government, then is there any other way to view this other than as an act of war?
If the Russian government is found to be behind this, then they have just launched an illegal chemical weapon attack on a foreign nation. Even at the most tense of times during the Cold War, the use of such deadly weapons were never used. If they had been, the Cold War would have very quickly turned hot. Such an act would be a first strike attack. In other words, an act of war.
So what could and should happen next?
- Expulsion of Russian diplomats (including the Russian ambassador);
- Increase NATO presence on the Russian border;
- Designation of Russia as being a state sponsor of terrorism;
- Seize all Russian assets in the UK;
- A non-lethal military cyber attack on Russia.
What is most likely to happen now?
- Expulsion of a few diplomats;
- England national football team not taking part in the Russia World Cup;
- Asking Ofcom to decide to revoke the UK broadcasting licence for Russia Today.
Why will the reaction be this mild?
Money cannot dictate foreign policy. Money cannot dictate the defence of this country. Money cannot dictate our democracy.
Fear can also not dictate the response. We must stand up against bullies. If Vladimir Putin is behind this, then he believes that he can reach anywhere at anytime without anyone standing up to him.
Since the Brexit referendum, this country has been a laughing stock to all other countries. We were once a power to be reckoned with. Now, we are the ‘little guy’ who Russia believes they can push around. They can’t. We are Great Britain. We will never allow anyone to attack our cities and our citizens. We will always defend these shores from all attacks. We will forever fight for freedom from aggressive foreign powers. We are Great Britain and we are not afraid.
But it seems that maybe the Conservative Party don’t represent what makes this country great. They represent money and greed. I believe that their interest of securing Russian money will dictate their next move. On Wednesday, when they announce what they will be doing in response to this attack, we will be told of a mild response. We might even be told that Russia has explained everything, and that they’ve arrested those responsible, and they will be flown to the UK immediately to stand trial. Those responsible might just turn out to be rivals of Putin, or who he believes would be acceptable collateral damage, so that he can appear strong to his nation just in time for the election.
We should expect more for Sergei Skripal, Yulia Skripal, and Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey. We should expect more for the city of Salisbury. We should expect more for this country. If the Tories fail to act in the way that represents what this great nation has always stood for, and instead reacts in a weak and feeble manner, then they will have failed everyone in Great Britain. This situation requires strength, not weakness. This crime requires justice, not weakness. This country requires greatness, not weakness.