OF RUSSIA, SPIES, AND THE UN SECURITY COUNCILMarch 16, 2018
By now you've all probably heard that Great Britain's Prime Minister Teresa May has expelled some Russian diplomats who are alleged to be spies, in retaliation for the alleged Russian poisoning of double agent Skripal. But there's some flies in this narrative ointment, and they were pointed out by a former British diplomat, and, incidentally, by my friend and colleague Walter Bosley, who posted the following comment on his Facebook wall:
The ease with which anyone could have poisoned Skripal and his daughter and left people to jump to conclusions that it was those dastardly Russians should give more people pause. It is quite possible that the Russians had nothing to do with it. Does anyone really think that neither we nor the Brits or any other player has Novichok?
Skripal had been a double agent for the Brits. From my perspective, as a former branch chief of DA ops for the AFOSI, the Russians wanted one or more imprisoned agents back. Arresting Skripal upon his return to Moscow years later, positioned the Russians to having someone the Brits wanted back -- and thus the currency was established. In the 2010 spy swap involving Russia, the US and UK, Russia got their preferred illegals (deep cover or NOC agents) back because they could give Skripal back to the Brits.
So why poison Skripal? Because it would look to knee-jerk reactionaries like the Russians 'got revenge'. But the Russians had already tried and convicted and imprisoned Skripal -- they could have executed him then (or poisoned him in prison). Instead, they gave him back in a swap. Another player poisoning Skripal would serve the saber-rattling objectives of a military-industrial-intel complex in the West and serve radical left/right political objectives in the US and UK, setting up the Russians a la the USS Maine.
Until I see something that convinces me that there is an 'otherwise', this is my opinion on this issue. (Emphasis added)
Craig Murray has almost the same exact interpretation, according to this article shared with me by Ms. C.F.:
Mr. Murray puts the same points this way:
The same people who assured you that Saddam Hussein had WMD’s now assure you Russian “novochok” nerve agents are being wielded by Vladimir Putin to attack people on British soil. As with the Iraqi WMD dossier, it is essential to comb the evidence very finely. A vital missing word from Theresa May’s statement yesterday was “only”. She did not state that the nerve agent used was manufactured ONLY by Russia. She rather stated this group of nerve agents had been “developed by” Russia. Antibiotics were first developed by a Scotsman, but that is not evidence that all antibiotics are today administered by Scots.
The “novochok” group of nerve agents – a very loose term simply for a collection of new nerve agents the Soviet Union were developing fifty years ago – will almost certainly have been analysed and reproduced by Porton Down. That is entirely what Porton Down is there for. It used to make chemical and biological weapons as weapons, and today it still does make them in small quantities in order to research defences and antidotes. After the fall of the Soviet Union Russian chemists made a lot of information available on these nerve agents. And one country which has always manufactured very similar persistent nerve agents is Israel. This Foreign Policy magazine (a very establishment US publication) article on Israel‘s chemical and biological weapon capability is very interesting indeed. I will return to Israel later in this article.
From Putin’s point of view, to assassinate Skripal now seems to have very little motivation. If the Russians have waited eight years to do this, they could have waited until after their World Cup. The Russians have never killed a swapped spy before. Just as diplomats, British and otherwise, are the most ardent upholders of the principle of diplomatic immunity, so security service personnel everywhere are the least likely to wish to destroy a system which can be a key aspect of their own personal security; quite literally spy swaps are their “Get Out of Jail Free” card. You don’t undermine that system – probably terminally – without very good reason.
It is worth noting that the “wicked” Russians gave Skripal a far lighter jail sentence than an American equivalent would have received. If a member of US Military Intelligence had sold, for cash to the Russians, the names of hundreds of US agents and officers operating abroad, the Americans would at the very least jail the person for life, and I strongly suspect would execute them. Skripal just received a jail sentence of 18 years, which is hard to square with the narrative of implacable vindictiveness against him. If the Russians had wanted to make an example, that was the time.
So what's the motivation for the murder of Skripal? Murray speculates:
There is no doubt that Skripal was feeding secrets to MI6 at the time that Christopher Steele was an MI6 officer in Moscow, and at the the time that Pablo Miller, another member of Orbis Intelligence, was also an MI6 officer in Russia and directly recruiting agents. It is widely reported on the web and in US media that it was Miller who first recruited Skripal. My own ex-MI6 sources tell me that is not quite true as Skripal was “walk-in”, but that Miller certainly was involved in running Skripal for a while. Sadly Pablo Miller’s LinkedIn profile has recently been deleted, but it is again widely alleged on the web that it showed him as a consultant for Orbis Intelligence and a consultant to the FCO and – wait for it – with an address in Salisbury. If anyone can recover that Linkedin entry do get in touch, though British Government agencies will have been active in the internet scrubbing.
It was of course Christopher Steele and Orbis Intelligence who produced for the Clinton camp the sensationalist dossier on Trump links with Russia – including the story of Trump paying to be urinated on by Russian prostitutes – that is a key part of the “Russiagate” affair gripping the US political classes. The extraordinary thing about this is that the Orbis dossier is obvious nonsense which anybody with a professional background can completely demolish, as I did here. Steele’s motive was, like Skripal’s in selling his secrets, cash pure and simple. Steele is a charlatan who knocked up a series of allegations that are either wildly improbable, or would need a high level source access he could not possibly get in today’s Russia, or both. He told the Democrats what they wish to hear and his audience – who had and still have no motivation to look at it critically – paid him highly for it.
Now why am I spending so much time with a spy-swap and a murdered spy? it is because in my opinion it is yet another component of the ongoing attempt to demonize Russia, and here I will speculate with some high octane speculation that isn't even the main high octane speculation of the day (which we're getting to):I suspect that Mr. Murray may be correct, that Mr. Skripal was a nasty "loose end" for the West, and that the West may be behind his murder, rather than Russia. Using the time honored technique of "combining objectives" in on operation, the West murdered him to "tie up" those "loose ends," and has then further exploited the affair to its own ends by using to to demonize Russia once again, and to deflect attention from other possibilities and motivations behind the murder, which Mr. Murray lays out.
There's something else going on behind the scenes, however, and it's this:
Now this one interested me because for many years in various books and blogs and interviews, I've been arguing that we would eventually see a movement to change the composition of the UN security council in such a fashion to make it look and reflect the current economic power status quo of globalism. TO be sure, I've argued that there are other agendas behind such a move. But the current situation now has arisen which may allow the change to occur, according to this RT article:
The West has launched a large-scale campaign to remove Russia from the UN Security Council (UNSC), Senator Sergey Kalashnikov said, commenting on the UK's accusations against Moscow over the poisoning of Sergei Skripal.
“The West has launched a massive operation in order to kick Russia out of the UN Security Council,” Kalashnikov said, as cited by RIA Novosti. “Russia is now a very inconvenient player for the Western nations and this explains all the recent attacks on our country.”
The Senator believes that in order to curb Russia’s membership there is going to be an attempt to reform the principal UN body tasked with the maintenance of international peace and security. The Russian Federal Council member reminded that the USSR, to which Russia is the legal successor, has been an integral part of the UNSC since its establishment in 1946.
On Wednesday, Labor MP Chris Leslie addressed May on the issue of reforming the UN Security Council in order to limit Russia’s rights within the body during a parliament session.
Leslie argued that Russia was “increasingly looking like a rogue state,” adding that “we must now begin to talk about reform” of the UNSC. “Russia can’t be allowed to simply sit pretty, thumbing its nose to the rest of the world community and feeling that it’s immune from the rule of law internationally,” Leslie said.
May responded by saying that Leslie was not the only one to stress the need for changes within the UNSC, promising that “this is something that we will look at.”
Now, for the record, I believe taking away Russia's permanent seat and veto on the security council would be a major mistake. Isolating a major thermonuclear and economic power and denying it any voice whatsoever is not only hugely destabilizing, it's just downright lunacy, and to suggest such a thing is a measure of the lunacy now gripping the western oligarchs.
But... I'll play the speculation game: if Russia were to be removed, who would replace it? Some might argue that it is impossible to replace or remove a permanent member of the security council, but again, history says otherwise: originally Nationalist China occupied that permanent seat on the security council for many years, long after mainland China had fallen to the Communists. Tiny Taiwan nevertheless sat as a permanent member, with a full veto, along with the USA, USSR, France, and Great Britain. That changed, of course, after Nixon's visit to mainland China, when Taiwan lost that seat, and communist China occupied it. So the precedent is there.
So who would replace Russia? At the top of the list are two contenders, both of which are still viewed by the UN to some extent as "enemy combatants" due to their alliance in the Second World War: Japan, and Germany. The latter, of course, has been quietly pressing behind the scenes for a permanent seat and veto on the security council since the days of the Kohl government and the Wiedervereinigung. The former certainly wouldn't refuse the position if it was offered. But taking away Russia's seat and giving it to Japan or Germany (or creating two new permanent seats on the security council) could backfire on those countries, particularly given Japan's careful diplomacy with Russia, and Germany's growing reliance on China to fill up the markets lost by Russian sanctions.
There's another possibility here too, and it comes from what I keep saying: these types of games are games that two can play, and in this light, the West may (again) have just inadvertently handed Russia a bargaining chip without realizing it: if the Security Council is to be "restructured", then it would seem that Russia could certainly lobby for those countries to be given permanent seats on the council, with all that implies, in return for certain "understandings" regarding sanctions, or, in Japan's case, the deals that could be made with that country for Siberian development. Already we have seen Mr. Abe and Mr. Putin ink some deals in that respect, and placing Japan on the security council in this context would be a smooth move, and give Japan some manueuvering room vis-a-vis Washington and Beijing.
See you on the flip side...