THE SKRIPAL CASE: SOME INTERESTING QUESTIONSApril 1, 2018
Most readers here are aware of the Skripal case, and the use of that case by the West as a crisis of opportunity to expel Russian diplomats and spies in retaliation for what they are saying is an attempt to assassinate a treasonous mole within Russia's intelligence networks. What has astonished me personally is the nearly unanimous behavior of the Western powers, beginning with Great Britain and ultimately involving the USA, France, Germany, and so on, in similar expulsions in retaliation for Mr. Putin's alleged perfidy in trying to assassinate Skripal.
My problem, from the start, has been the utter lack of real evidence that Russia would do this, and the utter lack of a motive for it to do so. Skripal served time in Russian jails, and became a part of a "spy swap" some years ago. It's that latter swap that intrigues, for it's something of an unwritten rule that one does not initiate "wet operations" against people one has traded in a spy swap. After all, who would swap spies when the practice was simply to kill them later anyway? The bottom line: if Russia wanted Skripal dead, they had ample opportunity to do so when he was in their custody. Don't get me wrong; virtually everyone in the "spy business" at some point conducts "wet operations" (to use the old KGB parlance for assassination of someone else's agents, spies, and so on). My problem with the Skripal case has been the usual one of means, motive, and opportunity: virtually everyone in the case has the means and opportunity to do him in, and most have the motive to do so (if recent revelations about his possible involvement in helping prepare the Trump dossier are true).
But in the wake of the exploitation of this affair as a crisis of opportunity to once again villify Russia and push the world into a dangerous confrontation with that nation, there are some bothersome questions, questions that have not been adequately explained by the West's leadership, according to this article shared by Mr. H. B.:
While all the questions raised in this article, I want to single out a few:
1. Why have there been no updates on the condition of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in the public domain since the first week of the investigation?
2. Are they still alive?
3. If so, what is their current condition and what symptoms are they displaying?
4. In a recent letter to The Times, Stephen Davies, Consultant in Emergency Medicine at Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust, wrote the following:
“Sir, Further to your report (“Poison exposure leaves almost 40 needing treatment”, Mar 14) may I clarify that no patients have experienced nerve agent poisoning in Salisbury and there have only ever been three patients with significant poisoning.”
His claim that “no patients have experienced nerve agent poisoning in Salisbury” is remarkably odd, as it appears to flatly contradict the official narrative. Was this a slip of the pen, or was it his intention to communicate precisely this — that no patients have been poisoned by a nerve agent in Salisbury?
5. It has been said that the Skripals and Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey were poisoned by “a military grade nerve agent”. According to some claims, the type referred to could be anywhere between five and eight times more toxic than VX nerve agent. Given that just 10mg of VX is reckoned to be the median lethal dose, it seems likely that the particular type mentioned in the Skripal case should have killed them instantly. Is there an explanation as to how or why this did not happen?
6. Although reports suggested the involvement of some sort of nerve agent fairly soon after the incident, it was almost a week before Public Health England issued advice to those who had visited The Mill pub or the Zizzi restaurant in Salisbury on the day that the Skripals fell ill. Why the delay and did this pose a danger to the public?
10. The former ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, has claimed that sources within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) have told him that scientists at Porton Down would not agree to a statement about the place of origin of the substance, because they were not able to establish this. According to Mr Murray, only under much pressure from the Government did they end up agreeing to the compromise wording, “of a type developed by Russia”, which has subsequently been used in all official statements on the matter. Can the FCO, in plain and unambiguous English, categorically refute Mr Murray’s claims that pressure was put on Porton Down scientists to agree to a form of words and that in the end a much-diluted version was agreed?
12. Why did the British Government issue a 36-hour ultimatum to the Russian Government to come up with an explanation, but then refuse their request to share the evidence that allegedly pointed to their culpability (there could have been no danger of their tampering with it, since Porton Down would have retained their own sample)?
13. How is it possible for a state (or indeed any person or entity) that has been accused of something, to defend themselves against an accusation if they are refused access to evidence that apparently points to their guilt?
14. Is this not a clear case of the reversal of the presumption of innocence and of due process?
19.On the Andrew Marr Show on 18th March, the Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, stated the following:
“And I might just say in response to Mr Chizhov’s point about Russian stockpiles of chemical weapons. We actually had evidence within the last ten years that Russia has not only been investigating the delivery of nerve agents for the purposes of assassination, but it has also been creating and stockpiling Novichok.”
Where has this intelligence come from and has it been properly verified?
20. If this intelligence was known before 27th September 2017 – the date that the OPCW issued a statement declaring the completion of the destruction of all 39,967 metric tons of chemical weapons possessed by the Russian Federation – why did Britain not inform the OPCW of its own intelligence which apparently contradicts this claim, which they would have had a legal obligation to do?
21. If this intelligence was known after 27th September 2017, why did Britain not inform the OPCW of this “new” information, which it was legally obliged to do, since it allegedly shows that Russia had been lying to the OPCW and had been carrying out a clandestine chemical weapons programme?
23. Is this a good enough legal basis from which to accuse another state and to impose punitive measures on it, or is more certainty needed before such an accusation can be made?
26.As Craig Murray has again pointed out, since its 2013 statement, the OPCW has worked (legally) with Iranian scientists who have successfully synthesised these chemical weapons. Was Mr Johnson aware that the category of “Novichok” chemical weapons had been synthesised elsewhere when he stated that this category of chemical weapons is “made only by Russia”?
27. Does the fact that Iranian scientists were able to synthesise this class of chemical weapons suggest that other states have the capabilities to do likewise?
28. Is the British Government aware that the main plant involved in attempts to synthesise Novichoks in the 1970s and 1980s was based not in Russia, but in Nukus in Uzbekistan?
29. Does the fact that the US Department of Defence decontaminated and dismantled the Nukus site, under an agreement with the Government of Uzbekistan, make it at least theoretically possible that substances or secrets held within that plant could have been carried out of the country and even back to the United States?
30. The connection between Sergei Skripal’s MI6 recruiter, Pablo Miller, who also happens to live in Salisbury, and Christopher Steele, the author of the so-called “Trump Dossier”, has been well established, as has the fact that Mr Skripal and Mr Miller regularly met together in the City. Is this connection of any interest to the investigation into the incident in Salisbury?
So, as the West's major governments have been involved in yet another round of the "Blame Russia and Putin" game, what these questions amount to are 1) there is no real evidence that Russia was involved that has of yet been forthcoming; 2) the investigation has been politicized from the outset; 3) any number of countries would appear to be capable of manufacturing the alleged nerve agent, (which, suspiciously, the British government did not warn locals about for a full week!), from Iran to the USA, which dismantled the plant allegedly involved in making it! and 4) the connection of Skripal to the Steele-Trump dossier affair at least raises the possibility that other motivations are operative in the incident than Russia wanting to "take care of" a one-time mole and double agent, which it had previously already done in Skripal's prison time in Russia prior to his swap.
If the latter is true, then what it implies is something so horrendous that it should give everyone pause, for in their willingness to ratchet up tensions with Russia yet again, the West appears to be trying to misdirect attention from aspects of the case that would suggest its own possible involvement.
Sorry, Mrs. May(and everyone else), but ratcheting up tensions with Russia, serving ultimata and expelling diplomats, on the basis of such a flimsy case, are not the way to go. Answer the questions. Even Mr. Corbyn, crazy as he is, knows there is something wrong with the story.
See you on the flip side...