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Novichok: Cui Bono?

by Frank Schnittger Fri Mar 16th, 2018 at 12:24:33 AM EST

Oui has written an interesting account of the Novichok story here. I am always wary of encroaching onto a political story where there are so few disinterested actors, reliable sources, and so much scope for disinformation. You are either a specialist with inside information, or a potential dupe. The topic is ripe for every conspiracy theorist in town, and yet it is a troubling story with potentially grave political implications for us all.

To begin with, it seems a strange coincidence that the Salisbury attack took place only eight miles away from the UK Chemical weapons research institute at Porton Down. Presumably some workers there would have access to nerve agents. It raises the possibility of an accidental exposure, or perhaps an attempt to sell the material for private gain gone wrong, although it is surely not coincidental that the primary victims were a Russian double agent and his daughter.

In the absence of conclusive evidence, one also has to ask Cui Bono:"who benefits"? A Russian scare is always a good diversionary tactic for a Conservative government in trouble. Putin's ascendency appears to be maintained, in part, by a Russia against the West narrative, especially at election time.

Deterring future defectors and whistle blowers could also be a useful outcome, although Irish Times former Russia Correspondent, Séamus Martin, suggests that it would have been counter-productive for Putin to have authorised the hit: It would have put future official spy swaps in jeopardy. It is difficult to see how this would have been a major policy consideration for Putin. Instead Séamus Martin points the finger of suspicion at various rival Russian Oligarchs who have taken refuge in London. Again he provides almost no evidence, but does note that some Oligarchs have become donors to the Conservative party...

But if you want to kill someone, why use such a complex and dangerous method? Why use a method almost guaranteed to generate public hysteria? Why use a method almost certain to play into new cold war narratives? And why did Putin's Russia act so insouciantly about it - almost treating it as a joke? Does Putin's Russia not care about winning a PR battle in the West? The Russian ambassador's media initiative in Ireland suggests otherwise.

It seems some powerful actors actively want a rapid deterioration in relations with Russia: The US military industrial complex humiliated by Afghanistan, Iraq, Crimea, Syria and N. Korea? An intelligence community humiliated by Trump and anxious to regain the initiative? Some rogue actors or agency which couldn't give a damn if it creates mayhem world wide? A Trump regime so incompetent and worried about Mueller's Russia investigation that only a re-emergent cold war atmosphere is sufficient to distract from it's own dubious dealings and almost total incompetence?

The UK has certainly been given an abject lesson in its own vulnerability and the dangers of allowing the Brexit rift with the EU27 to spill over into a disruption of military and intelligence alliances as well. Dependant on EU and world-wide support for any effective action against Russia, could hard line Brexit ideologues be feeling a little exposed? Is the UK policy of welcoming Russian Oligarch money and their retainers to London looking quite so clever now?

An Irish Judge has just thrown a spanner in the works of EU judicial cooperation and solidarity by refusing to extradite a Polish national back to Poland for trial for fear that essential safeguards against arbitrary arrest and prosecution have now been removed from the Polish judicial system. What happens if there is a similar divergence between UK and EU legal systems post Brexit with no ECJ service available to resolve the dispute?

Never before has it been more obvious that non-trade related elements of the EU are of critical importance to all - common judicial oversight in the form of the ECJ, intelligence sharing, European Arrest Warrant, police and security cooperation, a common external security and foreign policy architecture, PESCO, not to mention joint approaches to potential flashpoints in Gibraltar and N. Ireland.

Are hard core Brexiteers feeling a little exposed? Do they really want to put all their eggs in the basket of the rogue regime headed by Donald Trump and the many warring factions fighting for budget, influence and control there? It's beginning to look like a more and more dangerous world out there, and the glorious free trade utopia dreamt of Brexiteers more and more of a pipe dream. We will be lucky to escape the next decade without a major trade war, not to mention various military conflicts spilling over into western Europe itself.

Free trade cannot happen in a vacuum. It has only become so dominant in the post WWII world because there was a relatively stable world order with agreed WTO norms, many FTA's, mutual recognition of judicial systems, governments with an ideological commitment to free trade, and an absence of conflicts between major trading partners. Sanctions have disrupted trade with Apartheid S. Africa, Russia, N. Korea etc., but never between core members of the Western Alliance. In disrupting the architecture of the post WWII political world, Brexiteers are threatening the very basis of the free trade they claim to be so enamoured by.

That is one cake you cannot have and eat at the same time. Free trade depends on peace, trust, cooperation and mutual interests and obligations being observed. The EU has judicial and political mechanisms for ensuring those conditions are maintained. There is no guarantee that that will be the case between the UK and the EU27 in the future, and every possibility that they will diverge and the relationship between them spin out of control. The Novichok debacle is another indication of just how fragile that peace now is, and how dangerous the consequences of a breakdown in international order.

So who benefits from the Novichok scandal? The answer is, almost no one, except those who wish to sow the seeds of ever more distrust and conflict in the world. Those who can only cling onto power by increasing an irrational fear of the "other" in the general populace. Those who want to disrupt the fragile architecture of postwar peace in Europe as a means of increasing their own power base. As such any knee jerk reaction to the provocation may play into the wrong hands. Best to let the investigation run it's course and see if any real hard evidence of culpability emerges.

Tory gov. It just opened a new line of credit in PESCO.

Incidentally, where is Christopher Steele?

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Fri Mar 16th, 2018 at 03:31:08 AM EST
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Mar 16th, 2018 at 10:38:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Let's recap.
lawful, unlawful, legal, illegal

But her statement that, in the absence of a credible explanation, May will consider `that this action amounts to an unlawful use of force by the Russian state against the United Kingdom', suggests she is planning something much stronger than kicking out a few diplomats.

Comparative evidentiary standards notwithstanding, How does attempted murder of two individuals by unknown assailant(s) become causa belli?

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Fri Mar 16th, 2018 at 05:34:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When you need some distraction from your domestic political woes, any evidence, or even inferences based on past assumptions unverified by evidence, will do.  The standard is not the degree of hard evidence available, but the degree of need to come to the conclusion you want.  Isn't it great that some other Russians are being killed right now? It helps to create the required media narrative.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Mar 16th, 2018 at 05:46:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
[ ] means

[ x ] motive
political domination

[ ] opportunity

[ x ] evidence
Trace novichok on vics' clothing, in vics' blood gas, at public accommodation (restaurant X); "200 witnesses" testimony (type not publicized)

[ ] law

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Fri Mar 16th, 2018 at 06:36:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
From your link ...

The official said it was unclear if Trump himself saw Russia as an adversary but suggested Putin may have "overplayed his hand" by leaving Russian fingerprints on the hacking, the chemical attack, the deployment of ground-launched cruise missiles which the U.S. says violate an arms control treaty, and a March 1 speech on "invincible" Russian weaponry.

"If the president felt like Putin was one-upping him, not to mention stealing the limelight, then it wouldn't be surprising that he would react," the official said.

Russian fingerprints on hacking US electrical grid
Naming the world's most lethal, 4th generation nerve agent "Novichok", Russian lingo!
Putin stealing the limelight by turning the tables in Syria by killing terrorists, not pandering them with weapons
Not on a May 1 event, but eclipsing the US on March 1 speaking of "invincible" weaponry

Indeed, Putin riding high on a horse on the steppe of Siberia, imaging the great John Wayne ... how dare he!

by Oui on Fri Mar 16th, 2018 at 08:19:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
um, linked headline is "UK police identify over 200 witnesses in nerve agent attack: minister. This story summarizes evidence collected by DIs.

I surmise you scrolled past that to the next headline "https://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-russia/uk-police-identify-over-200-witnesses-in-nerve-ag ent-attack-minister-idUSKCN1GM0R7". I haven't read that.
You may be interested to know Russia Opens Criminal Cases Over Yulia Skripal's Poisoning, Glushkov's Murder, because

According to the latest reports from the UK intelligence, the nerve agent might have been sent in his daughter's suitcase in Moscow.

I'm thinking, more likely, it was the Taliban in a greeting card, unless those 200 witnesses were all baggage handlers at Gatwick or Heathrow who escaped with their lives.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Fri Mar 16th, 2018 at 08:47:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yulia Skripal may have traveled by boat. Novichok in a vacuum-sealed suitcase stowed below steerage certainly would be harmless until opened by the unwitting persona.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Fri Mar 16th, 2018 at 09:20:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
she had no need for change of clothing.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Fri Mar 16th, 2018 at 09:21:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
[x] Means

Porton Down almost certainly knows how to manufacture Novichok and varients and almost certainly has some available, probably in the range of kilograms. A tiny portion could have been used, possibly on orders from the government or, more likely, by others who had access in return for money. Same for USA. I find unauthorized use the more probable.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Mar 17th, 2018 at 08:46:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Craig Murray
The line that novichoks can only be produced by Russia is now proven to be a complete lie. As I previously proved by referencing their publications, in 2013 the OPCW scientific advisory committee note the evidence was sparse that novichoks had ever been successfully produced, and in 2016 that was still the line being published by Porton Down in 2016. You can find the hard evidence of all that here.

I have now been sent the vital information that in late 2016, Iranian scientists set out to study whether novichoks really could be produced from commercially available ingredients. Iran succeeded in synthesising a number of novichoks. Iran did this in full cooperation with the OPCW and immediately reported the results to the OPCW so they could be added to the chemical weapons database.

Links at source.
by generic on Sun Mar 18th, 2018 at 12:02:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Also, The Times | Fears allayed by doctor
Stephen Davies, a consultant in emergency medicine at the Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust, said that no one other than Sergei and Yulia Skripal and Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey had needed treatment.

The poisoning had prompted concern about the public's potential exposure to the novichok nerve agent, as well as complaints about a lack of information from the authorities. Neil Basu, the police head of counterterrorism, said on Tuesday that 35 people, other than the Skripals and Mr Bailey, had been seen by doctors after the ["]attack["].

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Sun Mar 18th, 2018 at 02:15:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
London court rules UK spy behind Trump dossier must give evidence in U.S. libel trial 16 Mar 2018
Last November, a British court ruled Steele should undergo lengthy pre-trial questioning and in February his lawyers sought to have that order quashed, arguing it could put his sources at risk and harm UK national security. On Friday, the High Court in London agreed Steele should provide a deposition which would be used in the Florida trial, Gubarev's lawyer said.

Grassley, Graham, Cornyn, Tillis Seek Special Counsel to Work with Inspector General on Handling of Russia Investigation 15 Mar 2018

In their letter to the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General, Grassley, Graham, Cornyn and Tillis outline the case for appointment of a special counsel to support an independent OIG investigation, and note that the appointment should occur under the specific Justice Department regulations that govern special counsels and limit the scope of their authority.

archived FEB 2018
"As of today, Mr Steele is a fugitive not unlike Christ Snowden, one might say."
US Senate Judiciary Committee referred C.STEELE to DOJ., letter (pdf)
As of today, STEELE is a material witness in three civil suits brought to US and UK courts (1 Trump, 2 Gubarev).

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Fri Mar 16th, 2018 at 09:08:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
fortnight later
UK's tortured approach to EU defence takes new twist
The UK's Ministry of Defence is participating in a trial of the EU's Coordinated Annual Review of Defence (CARD), launched last year, which seeks to coordinate defence budgets across the bloc. Ministers have indicated that they would like to remain in CARD, as well as the €4.5bn European Defence Fund, European Defence Agency, and EU Battlegroups, which pool soldiers and military expertise in joint missions.

The UK is also hoping to carve out a `partial' or `project' role [!] in the Permanent Structural Cooperation (PESCO) military integration project, launched last December by 25 EU governments, after it leaves the EU next March.

"The irony [?!] is that the EU is getting serious about defence just as the UK is leaving," says Sophia Betsch, a defence expert [?] at the Centre for European Reform.
"Ideally the UK will be able to opt-in to what they like, the only issue is going to be money," says Betsch. "Unlike trade, it's not zero-sum. There is an outcome where both sides win."

Alrighty then. Tory gov modus operandi older than dirt EXPOSED quite coincidentally by EXPLOSIVE Russian attack on the motherland.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Sun Apr 1st, 2018 at 12:20:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Gavin "Go away and shut up" Williamson splains Plan GBP, replacing the UK diplomatic corpse, to Sunday Torygraph subscribers.
Britain must keep step with Russia's evolving capabilities: minister
Britain's defense capabilities must evolve to keep step with the growing threat posed by Russia, Defense Minister Gavin Williamson said, as a standoff between Moscow and the West over the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter deepened.
I presume, REUTERS refers to We have entered a dangerous new era of warfare and must evolve to meet Putin's threat, Cliffs of Dover v.72
A century ago, bombers of Number 101 Squadron took the fight to the enemy in the midst of the Kaiser's Spring Offensive. I ...

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Sun Apr 1st, 2018 at 01:09:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Best to let the investigation run it's course and see if any real hard evidence of culpability emerges."

Do not kid oneself, if Russia can't prove its innocence Putin will be guilty for sole purpose to increase pressure through sanctions. Russia will remain in Crimea and is expanding its footprint in Syria. In Vietnam the US faced defeat. Now the era of a unipolar hegemon has begun and a defeat is unthinkable. The bullying will continue until the neocons and Israel have their war with Iran. The conflicts of regime change in Ukraine and Syria have come together and will result in an attack on the ayatollahs of the Islamic State of Iran. It is a steady process and after Trump discards the nuclear agreement with Iran in May, this will escalate into a military confrontation. Europe is still allied to the UK and US and is still doing their bidding in military actions and arms procurement.

by Oui on Fri Mar 16th, 2018 at 07:09:43 AM EST
You can't prove innocence in international affairs, and even proving guilt is difficult when it is so easy for state or semi-state actors to hide their tracks and muddy the waters. If anything, the era of the "unipolar hegemon" began with the end of the Cold War, and is ending now, after consecutive stalemates or defeats in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Crimea, Syrian and N. Korea: All wars fought at great cost for little, if any, gain.

Trump even ran on an isolationist platform after the disastrous Dubya years and the less than successful Obama interventions in Ukraine, Syria and Libya. The USA has lost it's unipolar hegemon status by virtue of Trump's incompetence if not his isolationism alone. It is difficult to see why he would want to add to the list of foreign policy disasters by attacking Iran as well. But then logic doesn't seem to apply.

Sure, Israel wants the US to eliminate a regional rival power for it's benefit. Perhaps the USA will fall for it again if Trump needs a war to prove his machismo come the next elections. But nothing good will come of it, and especially not for Europe.

Brexit is looking like a better idea all the time for the EU insofar as it helps to distance the EU from the UK and US foreign policy adventures.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Mar 16th, 2018 at 10:37:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are cases of accidental "troll rating", for instance, when someone uses the "Page up" or "Page down" keys to navigate the page after selecting a "4" comment rating and before pressing the "Rate All" button. Happens to the best of us.

User Guide - The "Down" ratings

1 is used to rate a comment "trollish", i.e. appears calculated to provoke angry reactions, is grossly aggressive or insulting, or really inappropriate. Even more rarely used than 2.

"Down" ratings should never be used to indicate that you disagree with the comment. If in doubt, wait and see what other members do. Remember that you or the commenter might be having a bad day, you or the commenter might have misinterpreted something or missed a joke (very easy on a forum in English where many don't have English as first language). Use without thought may send the wrong signals and tends to produce overheated discussion.

Count to 10 and think before using. Or ignore. Also read the The ETiquette.

by Bernard on Fri Mar 16th, 2018 at 07:48:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And, if accidental, a rating can be revised by the member making the rating.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Mar 17th, 2018 at 08:54:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
re: "prove its innocence"

tsk. My understanding is, according to Netherlands criminal code, Russian agents are only "suspects".

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Fri Mar 16th, 2018 at 05:15:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The point of oligarchs is that they're effectively part of government. "It was the oligarchs wot done it" doesn't exculpate the Russian state.  
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Mar 16th, 2018 at 08:12:49 AM EST
Oligarchs living in New York - London - Cyprus - Kiyv - Tel Aviv all represent a risk of being a state within a state. That's my understanding what Frank meant about the friendly Russian oligarchs living or taking up residence in London.

The Interpreter - Khodorkovsky - Henry Jackson Foundation - etc.
Exclusive: Why Akhmetshin and Fusion GPS Should Be Investigated

Came across this article ... interesting read.

Grapevine: A site for an embassy | Jerusalem Post |

by Oui on Fri Mar 16th, 2018 at 09:22:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed, from my diary linked above:

A warning word by Colman over 12 years ago:

  • Neocons sighted on the Thames
  • It has worsened with all the Russian capital fleeing taxation at home or oligarchs facing prosecution in Moscow for embezzlement. Bill Browder got away, Magnitsky suffered.

    The Story Behind Chris Steele - Ukraine and Nuland

    by Oui on Fri Mar 16th, 2018 at 09:33:26 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    There are pro-Putin Oligarchs and Anti-Putin Oligarchs. Some, even, have paid for their opposition with their freedom or their lives. So it does depend a bit on which Oligarch did it, and why. But it is difficult to see why an Anti-Putin Oligarch would do it, unless he wanted to cause as much trouble for Putin as possible, in the hope it might eventually lead to Putin's fall. A revenge attack needn't succeed to cause damage. The damage is the revenge.

    Index of Frank's Diaries
    by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Mar 16th, 2018 at 10:42:43 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Yes, it's hard to see a good motive. And as covered in the other thread lots of states - and employees at chemical weapons facilities of said states - has the means to create Novichok, if that was indeed what was used.

    I think the most interesting question is opportunity. Skripal and his daughter was as I understand it sitting on a park bench in a public park when found. This is also were the police officer was poisoned. So most likely Skripal and his daughter were poisoned here, on a park bench in a public park in a country littered with CCTV. If there was no camera pointed directly at them there should be enough cameras nearby to identify the possible culprits. Somebody poisoned them, and apprehending that somebody should be possible.

    by fjallstrom on Fri Mar 16th, 2018 at 12:34:26 PM EST
    CHECKLIST: [ ] means [ ] motive [ ] opportunity [ ] evidence

    Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
    by Cat on Fri Mar 16th, 2018 at 05:10:28 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    WATCH CCTV Footage of Skripal Right Before [?] He Was Found Poisoned
    Police fear that the nerve agent that was allegedly used to poison former Russian spy Sergei Skripal had spread to Dorset [!] as they received CCTV images showing the man driving just hours before he collapsed from the effects of the substance [ON A PARK BENCH IN THE COMPANY OF HIS DAUGHTER YULIA]. On March 14, officers were preparing to remove a truck used to tow Skripal's car from a parking lot; at least one of those vehicles has already been seized for examination.

    m'k. soooo the novichok-loaded luggage was in the boot?

    Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

    by Cat on Fri Mar 16th, 2018 at 09:37:10 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    FBI-QUALITY CORROBERATION of Mirror, Russian "misinformation"
    MSN | New CCTV footage shows Sergei Skripal driving - hours before nerve agent attack, different angle, camera

    Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
    by Cat on Fri Mar 16th, 2018 at 09:42:26 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Independent | CCTV footage of Sergei Skripal and daughter moments before they were found poisoned
    , still, no time-stamp
    Video from inside a nearby restaurant appears to show the 66-year-old walking with two women, one of whom is believed to be his daughter Yulia, 33, in the city of Salisbury, Wiltshire. ... The second woman in the footage has not yet been publicly identified.  

    The trio were seen walking down an alley at 4:08pm, close to the Zizzi restaurant where they had eaten. At 4:15pm, a police car can be seen speeding down the alleyway in response to a 999 call. At 4:18pm, a first-responder ambulance car arrived on scene.

    m'k. Who carried the luggage?

    Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

    by Cat on Fri Mar 16th, 2018 at 09:51:06 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    The Sun | EYE SPY CCTV video footage `shows ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and daughter Yulia walking with mystery woman moments before they were found poisoned', running time 00:00:34, no luggage

    Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
    by Cat on Fri Mar 16th, 2018 at 09:56:38 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Guardian | Russian spy mystery: police release CCTV footage - video, different camera, angle, running time 00:00:19, two people, time stamp 15:47:44 PM

    Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
    by Cat on Fri Mar 16th, 2018 at 10:00:20 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    One motive I could see [wild-assed speculation alert] is Russian entities with a vested interest in maintaining the sanctions regime.

    Economic sanctions have two primary uses: To prevent proliferation of technology that you would really rather the target state did not possess (such as sophisticated missile guidance units) and to coerce policy changes by hurting stakeholders within the target economy who are hoped to have sufficient political leverage to affect the desired policy change. But the flip side of that latter use case is that sanctions hurt the same people you are hoping will be your change agents. If you keep hurting them badly enough, long enough, you're  eventually going to degrade their ability to influence policy.

    Conversely, the people whose cash flows and power base are not directly impacted by sanctions, or who even stand to gain from them, will become more powerful the longer and deeper your sanctions regime: If you control the cigarette smuggling, then you don't want the smoking ban to go away.

    For the purpose of ginning up maximum hysteria while drawing a minimum of the kind of attention you really don't want, killing an outed ex-spy in exile using James Bond style gadgetry is perfect: The Russians will be blamed (because duh), the British are going to half-ass the investigation (because the guy wasn't actually valuable to them, and they already know it was the Russians), and the Russians are going to make belligerent noises about how the bastard got what was coming to him (because anything else would be a loss of face toward their domestic audience of jingoist hicks). Sanctions relief is off the table for a few more quarters, and nobody is going to get off their asses long enough to track you down and persuade you that it was a bad idea.

    What's not to like? (Unless you're the exiled ex-spy in question, but he clearly didn't get a vote on the plan.)

    Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

    by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Mar 16th, 2018 at 01:27:35 PM EST
    FR, UK, US, and NATO peripheral client states, eg UKRAINE have vested interest in maintaining the sanctions regime.

    Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
    by Cat on Fri Mar 16th, 2018 at 05:12:42 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    But they also have easier ways to do it. Like asking the Americans politely.

    And they have more to lose the day it gets out who actually did it (and it always eventually does, or at least often enough that you have to plan for it).

    Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

    by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Mar 16th, 2018 at 05:18:43 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I'm not following this reasoning. Help me.

    Am I to understand, the easier and easiest way to murder a Russian spy protected by UK gov in the UK is to employ a Russian agent, specifically?

    Am I to understand, UK gov has apprehended, tried, and convicted every suspect of every murdered intelligence asset since, say, the bloody suicide of David Kelly in 2003?

    Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

    by Cat on Fri Mar 16th, 2018 at 05:50:32 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Craig Murray
    I have now received confirmation from a well placed FCO source that Porton Down scientists are not able to identify the nerve gas as being of Russian manufacture, and have been resentful of the pressure being placed on them to do so. Porton Down would only sign up to the formulation "of a type developed by Russia" after a rather difficult meeting where this was agreed as a compromise formulation. The Russians were allegedly researching, in the "Novichok" programme a generation of nerve agents which could be produced from commercially available precursors such as insecticides and fertilisers. This substance is a "novichok" in that sense. It is of that type. Just as I am typing on a laptop of a type developed by the United States, though this one was made in China.

    To anybody with a Whitehall background this has been obvious for several days. The government has never said the nerve agent was made in Russia, or that it can only be made in Russia. The exact formulation "of a type developed by Russia" was used by Theresa May in parliament, used by the UK at the UN Security Council, used by Boris Johnson on the BBC yesterday and, most tellingly of all, "of a type developed by Russia" is the precise phrase used in the joint communique issued by the UK, USA, France and Germany yesterday:

        "This use of a military-grade nerve agent, of a type developed by Russia, constitutes the first offensive use of a nerve agent in Europe since the Second World War."

    When the same extremely careful phrasing is never deviated from, you know it is the result of a very delicate Whitehall compromise. My FCO source, like me, remembers the extreme pressure put on FCO staff and other civil servants to sign off the dirty dossier on Iraqi WMD, some of which pressure I recount in my memoir Murder in Samarkand. She volunteered the comparison to what is happening now, particularly at Porton Down, with no prompting from me.

    Separately I have written to the media office at OPCW to ask them to confirm that there has never been any physical evidence of the existence of Russian Novichoks, and the programme of inspection and destruction of Russian chemical weapons was completed last year.

    Did you know these interesting facts?

    OPCW inspectors have had full access to all known Russian chemical weapons facilities for over a decade - including those identified by the "Novichok" alleged whistleblower Mirzayanov - and last year OPCW inspectors completed the destruction of the last of 40,000 tonnes of Russian chemical weapons

    By contrast the programme of destruction of US chemical weapons stocks still has five years to run

    Israel has extensive stocks of chemical weapons but has always refused to declare any of them to the OPCW. Israel is not a state party to the Chemical Weapons Convention nor a member of the OPCW. Israel signed in 1993 but refused to ratify as this would mean inspection and destruction of its chemical weapons. Israel undoubtedly has as much technical capacity as any state to synthesise "Novichoks".

    Until this week, the near universal belief among chemical weapons experts, and the official position of the OPCW, was that "Novichoks" were at most a theoretical research programme which the Russians had never succeeded in actually synthesising and manufacturing. That is why they are not on the OPCW list of banned chemical weapons.

    Porton Down is still not certain it is the Russians who have apparently synthesised a "Novichok". Hence "Of a type developed by Russia". Note developed, not made, produced or manufactured.

    Index of Frank's Diaries
    by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Mar 16th, 2018 at 03:11:12 PM EST
    A commenter on Naked Capitalism points out:
    And one thing which is unbelievably anechoic. I'm actually in Salisbury today (part of a regular variant on my commute when I have to head west, the station is a large rail hub) and it's less then 10 miles from where I live. So I know the area like the back of my hand. No-one, and I mean no-one has ever asked in the MSM just what the guy was doing living here. It's about as unlikely a spot for anyone to end up living here as it's possible to get. You get a few retirees, but very little influx from out the area.

    But Salisbury is the epicentre for the U.K. military operations. There are at least half a dozen key installations of strategic importance (the Porton Down chemical weapons "research" facility https:/en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Porton_Down, the army command HQ was there until 2010 when it moved to nearby Andover https:www.gov.uk/government/news/new-land-forces-hq-fully-operational, the Salisbury plain training base http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-wiltshire-16653733, the Amesbury research operation https:/en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/MoD_Boscombe_Down, the large Warminster Garrison http://www.warminster-garrison.co.uk/Warminster-Garrison/Warminster-Garrison-Information-20012015.ht m -- and that's just off the top of my head, there's a lot more you drive past which are military facilities but not on the same scale as these.

    by generic on Fri Mar 16th, 2018 at 03:27:41 PM EST
    by generic on Fri Mar 16th, 2018 at 05:07:42 PM EST
    Good thing for christ Snowden that he retired to Moscow.

    Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
    by Cat on Fri Mar 16th, 2018 at 05:55:25 PM EST
    It just occurred to me whether or not "Russia did it" it serves the interest f the hard Brexiteers and of Boris Johnson in particular to pressure the EU for sanctions without sufficient evidence. When the EU refuses to do the UK's bidding the Brexit negotiations can be allowed to fail and it would be the EU's fault for being unreasonable about Russia instead of it being the UK's fault for beng unreasonable about the Irish border.

    The EU has nothing to gain from antagonising the UK, but look at this:Tusk and Juncker Say Wait-and-See on Russia: EU Summit Update

    [Finland] Prime Minister Juha Sipila said that the "information we've got so far is not enough to make decisions, this kind of decisions need to be assessed through careful processes."
    Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel had this to say: "I want to listen, don't ask me to say if there is evidence or not."
    Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis ... responded: "Is there any evidence of this? I don't know, of course we trust our allies."

    He went on to say: "If U.K. is sure then I am sure also. We will discuss it. This attack is a big problem but we hope that U.K. is really convinced that this is the case that Russia is behind it."

    Tsipras was non-committal about where he stood on the poisoning incident: "we need to investigate Salisbury event with great responsibility."


    Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite ... [a]sked by a reporter about the possibility the bloc will agree to booting out Russian officials from their own countries, ... said "all of us, we are considering."

    Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, when asked whether he believes the U.K.'s version of events seemed not to be so sure: "I'm a cautious person... When we know who did it then I'll comment. Who would say for sure now?"
    Now get this:
    Some of the strongest language on Russia came from Ireland, who ... stands by its neighbor when it comes to Russian aggression. ... the wording is strong ... At least Leo Varadkar didn't dwell on needing to see more evidence.
    This is as close as anyone got to the UK position. Let's hear it:
    "I think what occurred in Salisbury was loathsome and reprehensible and we're going to stand right beside the U.K. on that issue. An attempted assassination or a chemical attack -- no matter who does it, no matter where it happens -- is something we are going to condemn and condemn outright."
    Not a ringing endorsement, is it? And yet
    The British prime minister needs to make a compelling enough case that Russia carried out a chemical attack on British soil.

    She's after more than just words of support from them.

    After the first meeting:
    Peter Pellegrini ... prime minister of Slovakia ...: "We fully agree with the draft of text which will be presented during the meeting later on. So we fully support this, but when we speak about some actions against Russia I will repeat once more, if there will be agreement of all member states then Slovakia will be part of it, but we don't like to support any individual actions."
    O dear.

    A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 22nd, 2018 at 07:36:51 PM EST
    Just now Varadker needs to show how pro-British he is so he can inoculate himself against charges of being anti-British when he pursues a hard line on the border. Giving verbal support to the UK on Salisbury costs him nothing while burnishing his Anglo-phile credentials.

    Index of Frank's Diaries
    by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Mar 22nd, 2018 at 10:28:03 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Given the Tories think Ireland should be a vassal state of the UK I don't see Varadker gaining anything from this.

    She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
    by ATinNM on Fri Mar 23rd, 2018 at 03:46:53 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    except future employment opportunities

    Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
    by Cat on Fri Mar 23rd, 2018 at 04:02:13 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    The annoying thing, from a British Government perspective, is that the Irish government isn't accepting its supposed vassal status and neither flattery nor condescension is solving the problem.

    Index of Frank's Diaries
    by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Mar 23rd, 2018 at 04:43:40 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    The British are not the people he needs to convince that he's being reasonable.

    The people he needs to convince are his EU partners, whom he needs to not throw him under the bus come crunch time. If he can swing that, what the British think is distinctly secondary, since they don't actually have any bargaining position worth a damn.

    Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

    by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Mar 24th, 2018 at 10:06:37 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Therefore you will continue to see Varadker's charm offensive whenever he meets another EU leader and Ireland not straying too far from the EU consensus on anything - bar corporate taxation - Varadker's nightmare scenario is if some EU leaders start linking their support for Ireland's position on Brexit to Ireland acquiescing to their position on corporate taxation.

    Index of Frank's Diaries
    by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Mar 24th, 2018 at 10:34:20 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Ireland makes U-turn, says will collect €13 billion back taxes from Apple 7 DEC 2017

    a timely reminder of promises tendered

    Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

    by Cat on Sat Mar 24th, 2018 at 12:43:49 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    The U-Turn heading is misleading. There was never any question of Ireland not complying with an EU court ruling. All it is doing is putting the money in an escrow account pending the appeal hearing as was required by the Commission. Now if Ireland were to discontinue the appeal process - as I think they should do - that would be a U-Turn.

    Index of Frank's Diaries
    by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Mar 25th, 2018 at 08:26:33 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Fake news?
    Irish appeal of Apple ruling a `strange decision', says Moscovici Sep 2016
    Ireland to join Apple in fight against EU tax ruling
    `Irish Times' poll: Majority support appeal of Apple ruling Oct 2016
    Luxembourg to support Irish appeal over Apple tax ruling Mar 2017
    The Government and Apple filed separate appeals last year against the commission's decision that the Revenue Commissioners afforded Apple an unfair advantage in two "rulings", in 1991 and 2007, by allowing the group channel most of the income from European sales through "head office" divisions of two Apple subsidiaries in Ireland, which were non-resident for tax purposes.
    State and Apple near deal over billions in back tax July 2017
    It's more than six months since it missed an original EU deadline to collect the funds.
    Varadkar's legal threat to Apple on €13bn tax bill Nov 2017
    Brussels has already referred Ireland to the European Court of Justice for failing to collect the money more than a year after the technology giant was ordered to pay up. ...Last month, EC Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager announced the commission would take court-enforcement action against Ireland over failure to collect the tax money, which is under appeal by both Ireland and Apple.
    States' rights?

    Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
    by Cat on Sun Mar 25th, 2018 at 11:35:43 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    No. Bureaucratic inertia. Allegedly the government is afraid Apple might sue it  for "loss of income" if they put just put the money in an escrow account and left it there. So they ran a tender process for investment houses to manage the money while it is beyond Apple's reach. This whole process seems to have taken an inordinate amount of time, but that is largely irrelevant as long as it is collected and retained depending on whether the appeal is successful or not.

    The issue under appeal IS a matter of states rights though. States have not delegated sovereignty over taxation matters to the EU and the Commission has made its ruling under "state aid" to private companies rules claiming that Apple got a special sweetheart deal. The Irish government counter-claim is that the rules under which Apple managed to avoid tax were available and applicable to all companies and that the EU Commission is encroaching on it's sovereign right to write it's own tax laws.

    Technically, I think the Irish Government may be right but that does not mean the tax laws weren't crazy, as written, and shouldn't be reformed. The Irish Government has since closed the loophole under which Apple avoided the tax, and the €13 Billion relates to historic earnings only. I will be more convinced of the Irish governments case if it demonstrates that other companies availed of the same loop-hole. I also agree with the EU trying to reduce tax competition/arbitrage between member states, but it doesn't really have the power to do so effectively as yet.

    Index of Frank's Diaries

    by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Mar 25th, 2018 at 02:11:44 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Half a year is on the long side but not out of bounds for a public procurement process of this magnitude.

    What is, however, totally out of bounds and a very bad precedent, is the notion that the state is liable for consequential damages arising from reimbursement of disputed tax payments in the absence of obvious bad faith on the part of the tax authority.

    Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

    by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Mar 25th, 2018 at 04:09:27 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I agree, and I wonder whether the state hasn't been making a bit of a meal of its concerns in that regard. That said, the Irish Courts are extremely protective of the rights of private property and there are plenty of lawyers making a fine living out of pursuing dubious corporate law cases.

    Index of Frank's Diaries
    by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Mar 25th, 2018 at 04:38:02 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Yes, I had read the articles and am also familiar with US position on this dispute. I'm inclined to credit current bi-lateral trade conflict to Apple and VW litigation.

    These papers front predictably different positions on EU VAT imposition. Does the Commission not have a valid case in seeking to reform digital taxation?
    Ireland to fight proposed EU digital tax on internet giants
    Ireland must rewire its strategy in light of EU tech tax threat

    Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

    by Cat on Sun Mar 25th, 2018 at 08:50:59 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Short answer is yes - it makes sense  from an EU perspective to tax digital companies on their EU wide sales as their under-taxation has been a significant factor in their success in competing against more traditional "bricks" and "morter" companies giving US multi-nationals a competitive advantage against more traditional EU businesses.

    Trump likes to complain about "unfair" competition against US businesses whereas the reality is than many US corporates have had more or less a free ride throughout the rest of the world. If he really does start a serious trade war I could see US multi-nationals being by far the biggest losers. - but that's another story.

    From an Irish perspective, the EU getting more actively involved in corporate taxation is nothing less than a national disaster - some say a greater risk than Brexit - because Ireland's economic success has been largely predicated on attracting almost every major tech country to set up their EU and sometimes their EMEA headquarters here. This has created many high quality jobs here and not inconsiderable corporate tax revenues even if they are only a v. small % of total corporate earnings throughout much of the rest of the world.

    It is easy to criticise such "tax competition" and it certainly has a very damaging effect on EU tax revenues as a whole.  But it is also probably the only basis on which smaller, peripheral EU countries can compete with the big central economies for direct foreign investment. Otherwise you would have expected these companies to have set up their EU headquarters in Germany/France/Benelux/UK instead.

    So until and unless the EU comes up with Keynesian redistributive policies and regional policies which overcome the structural disadvantages which smaller peripheral economies face, it seems understandable that Ireland and smaller peripheral economies should make common cause against such a big country power grab disguised as EU common sense. Given that current neo-liberal economic orthodoxies frown on government interventions on the scale required to rebalance the EU (and EZ especially), to provide an even playing field for peripheral countries, I can understand why national corporate taxation policies have evolved to fulfil that role instead.

    It would probably be a lot more economically efficient to have one EU wide common taxation system with much of the revenue used to rebalance economic development between the regions. But that would be politically impossible because it would be portrayed as German taxpayers subsidising feckless Greeks. So we have what we have, and from the Irish government's point of view, it is working very well, even if it is recognised that it probably can't go on for much longer, and the more players join the game, the less successful the strategy will be.

    Index of Frank's Diaries

    by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Mar 25th, 2018 at 10:21:24 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    So much for that: EU recalls ambassador from Russia as leaders back May over Salisbury
    The European Union has recalled its ambassador from Moscow after leaders on the continent threw their weight behind Theresa May's stance over the Salisbury attack. Several EU member states were poised to announce expulsions of diplomats, in a bid to dismantle Vladimir Putin's spy network.

    Following a summit in Brussels to discuss the response to the Salisbury nerve agent attack, EU leaders gave their full-throated backing to the prime minister by adopting a statement declaring it was "highly likely Russia is responsible" for poisoning Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia.

    A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 23rd, 2018 at 08:42:24 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    My first thought was that the EU are just playing along with May's insistence without concrete evidence - which would give some EU-leaders potential future leverage in the case it turns out the UK is bluffing around. It's hard to go wrong here: it looks firm and decisive and all that if at a later stage clear-cut evidence about Russia's involvement is actually there, and in the case there isn't and the UK is caught red-handed in pulling the wool over people's eyes, that's just another embarrassment for the UK which can be leveraged during the Brexit negotiations.

    Of course, the ploy of recalling an ambassador in the diplomatic smoke and mirrors game may look impressive on paper - except it isn't. If people were actually seriously responding to the UK government's allegation that Putin is personally involved in the attack, the effective counter-move should involve financial sanctions aimed at the cabal surrounding Putin.

    by Bjinse on Fri Mar 23rd, 2018 at 09:00:10 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I had a half written comment in a forgotten tab that no one buys this and whom is it even supposed to convince?
    Turns out the European Council and half the EU is dispelling diplomats.
    So obviously the Tories judged the mood in European Capitals more accurately than me. And frankly this sort of looks like a smart play. One of the few points of leaverage the UK has is that they have an actually functional military with a further role in Europe that is up for grabs. Heating up the Cold War with Russia gives more weight to this. The military industrial establishment is also one of the few power centres that could trump the EU's institutional juggernaut.
    On the other hand my distraction theory falls flat. If you want a flashy distraction than you pick on a country you can actually do something about. Blame it on Assad or the Houthis.
    by generic on Tue Mar 27th, 2018 at 07:56:51 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    While I agree that the Tories are a pile of lying shits, it's also true that Putin is laying piece of shit who's quite capable of doing exactly what he's been accused of. It is possible for both sides to be the bad guy here.

    Russia's denials have been of the implausible deniability  variety, so it appears to suit them to have everyone believe it might well have been them.

    Since it looks like assorted governments who might not be enthusiastic about action against Russia have decided that the evidence they've seen  is strong  enough to take diplomatic action I suspect the mostly likely scenario is that Russian government was involved, at least to the criminal negligence level, possibly directly.

    by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Mar 27th, 2018 at 10:55:26 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    While I agrre with the assessment of both Putin and Tories, I don't agree with the assessment of assorted governments. As we saw in the case of liquid on airplanes, governments can be sent into stampede by rumours and then have a hard time backing down.

    I have been folllowing Craig Murray on his quest to read exactly what Porton Down is saying, and a recent piece is this part of the judgement on allowing OPCW to take samples from the Skripals:

    The Evidence
    1. The evidence in support of the application is contained within the applications themselves (in particular the Forms COP 3) and the witness statements.
    2. I consider the following to be the relevant parts of the evidence. I shall identify the witnesses only by their role and shall summarise the essential elements of their evidence.
    i) CC: Porton Down Chemical and Biological Analyst
    Blood samples from Sergei Skripal and Yulia Skripal were analysed and the findings indicated exposure to a nerve agent or related compound. The samples tested positive for the presence of a Novichok class nerve agent OR CLOSELY RELATED AGENT.

    Murray's emphasis, and as he points out Novichok class nerve agents can be manufactured by other parties because Iran did so in 2016 (in full cooperation with OPCW). Until OPCW has taken their samples and done their testing, that is were the chemical evidence appears to stand right now.

    by fjallstrom on Tue Mar 27th, 2018 at 12:03:04 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    The liquids on airplanes thing is, surely, because if you want to fly into the US you have to comply with US security requirements, so any international airport has to implement the same rules. That this results in increased sales in airports can only be coincidental. Note that the laptop ban didn't happen because the rest of the world (and their own business travellers) talked down the Americans to just a more detailed inspection regime.

    I have difficulty taking Murray as a trusted source at this stage.

    by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Mar 27th, 2018 at 12:06:52 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I mean sure, it is perfectly possible that Russia is behind it. And I freely admit that my priors are pretty biased against allegations against Russia since, probably, the Georgian war. And the way Russian involvement and perfidy has been grossly oversold in the last years hasn't helped.
    However, I don't see any reason to doubt Craig Murray's summary of the state of public evidence. Which amounts to nothing at all. No evidence that Russia ever manufactured the compound, or that Russia even still keeps chemical weapons, contrary to its statements at the OCW.
    It is of course quite possible that there is secret evidence that is much clearer, but "trust me" doesn't really work for me. And has anyone even proposed a motive?
    Now, it is interesting that after the frosty reception described in Migeru's comment, half the EU moved on to expelling (some) diplomats. But if this is connected to the strength of evidence is anybodies guess.
    by generic on Tue Mar 27th, 2018 at 12:52:27 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    It seems to me that expelling a couple of diplomats - who are probably known spies in any case - is nothing more than a token gesture to demonstrate some solidarity with the UK in the context of a heinous act. Perhaps with some generalised disapproval of Russian involvement in cyber-security scandals thrown in. It doesn't mean very much in the real world of EU/Russian realpolitik and will soon be forgotten. It certainly doesn't imply that everyone is convinced by the "evidence" of Russian involvement. I also don't think it will have much impact on the Brexit negotiations which aren't really about military cooperation, although some sub-strands may touch on it.

    What it does mean that May has had a useful distraction for a few weeks which has taken the heat off her failure to make any impact on the EU negotiation position on Brexit. It will help make hard-core Brexiteers (and far right military hawks) feel comfortable that Britain still has an important place in the world. Why else would Russia attack it? And doesn't it show that British Diplomacy can still call the shots for the rest of the EU?

    The EU still prefers to deal with the Devil they Know (May) rather than a possible alternate Tory (or Labour) government leader. May is still seen as the best prospect of delivering a deal to the EU's liking. So anything the EU can do to help prop up May will be done - provided it doesn't cost too much in terms of concessions across the negotiating table. Of course May will be dispensable once Brexit actually happens, and that game is over. And if the UK still wants to play "me too" whenever a military crisis beckons, that will be indulged too.

    But at the end of the day, the UK simply doesn't matter all that much to most of the rest of the EU any more. It's day is done. Perhaps some deck chairs on the Titanic can be rearranged, but that ship has sailed.

    Index of Frank's Diaries

    by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Mar 27th, 2018 at 04:28:03 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Yeah, after a closer look this is still not significantly different from nothing. Frankly I got taken in by Austria's liberal Twitter bubble. Massive outrage that the far right government doesn't follow along with the other EU countries, and expels about half a Russian diplomat if you scale by size?

    We also are in need of a better opposition.

    by generic on Wed Mar 28th, 2018 at 02:55:21 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    ".. the evidence they've seen  is strong  enough .."

    There is NO evidence for all these countries to see. Guilt by association as the most linkely argument used by British diplomats. US/UK need solidarity of the NATO countries plus Ukraine to avenge Russia's intervention in Syria.

    Assad should have been overthrown according to the same coalition of nations. The deal was that the GCC states under leadership of KSA plus the Muslim Brotherhood states of Turkey/Qatar would take control of Syria. This would have provided a wig between the Shia axis from Lebanon thru Iraq to Iran. The West failed because the US emboldened the Sunni insurgents of Anbar province aka ISIL as a proxy to defeat the Assad regime. Soon it became clear the inhumane acts of the foreign jihadists in Syria were far worse that the sitting Assad regime. As history reported, after some 500,000 persons killed Putin took the lead and by political means got Turkey's Erdogan loosened from the NATO alliance for support in the end.

    In addition after the purge of the democratically elected Yanukovych in February 2014, Russia was left no choice but to retake Crimea where its fleet is located on the Black Sea. On the Mediterranean Sea the Russians needed the key port in Tarsus so it came through to protect its ally Syria.

    The US under Trump will get rid of the nuclear treaty with Iran in May and escalate further to a military confrontation. The Pentagon and the IC are building alliances in the Middle East for support: Israel - KSA - GCC nations except Qatar. Saudi Arabia is strongarming Pakistan to join this military alliance. Could be that the US will enforce an oil export embargo on Iran by closing down the Persian Gulf entry ... excuse me, the Arabian Gulf of course.  

    Israel Prepares the Ground Work for Iran War

    by Oui on Tue Mar 27th, 2018 at 02:31:27 PM EST
    [ Parent ]

    [  ] means (delivery method) individual [?], mechanical [?]; ("novichok" stock) UK gov [x], RU gov [?], USA gov [?], Other gov [?], off-shelf compound [?]

    [ x ] motive: political domination UK gov [x] , RU gov* [x], EU27 govs [?], personal [?]

    [  ] opportunity: known Skirpal associate [?], public coincidence [?], time [?] and place [?]

    [ x ] evidence: [ ? ] circumstantial, [ x ] physical-- trace novichok on vics' clothing [?], in vics' blood gas [?], at public accommodation [?]; "200 witnesses" testimony (vic, expert, material, documentary, hearsay, not specified) [?]

    [ ] law

    There's nothing but speculation about RU motive in this thread (* the least persuasive being RU oligarchs' intent to maintain monopoly market power of contraband, considering the range in val + vol of NG + oil excluded from EU sanctions) and syndicated Anglo-merican press. More peculiar, UK investigators unwilling or unable to produce any other suspects but Russia gov, synedoche. Not even a ham sandwich.

    Where "motive" may be a leading question, have a look at the Anglo-merican blindspot from the other side of the world. < wipes tears > "FUKUS" Alliance.

    Where are Christopher Steele and his "source(s)" again?

    Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

    by Cat on Tue Mar 27th, 2018 at 07:07:41 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    the Prime Minister said that Russia provided no explanation as to how this agent came to be used in the UK. There is no alternative conclusion other than

    UK border and customs surveillance agents and infrastructure are unreliable? Or ineffective?

    That's informative!

    Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

    by Cat on Tue Mar 27th, 2018 at 07:29:10 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Diplomatic pouch. Since the UK border controls are so effective, there's no alternative conclusion as to how the Russians got it into the country.
    by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Mar 27th, 2018 at 07:35:19 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    That explains why there are no other suspects! Thanks.

    Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
    by Cat on Tue Mar 27th, 2018 at 08:19:06 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    MAGA Emissary Numero Uno
    Trump Says He Would Negotiate Brexit With `Tougher' Attitude Than Theresa May"
    It would be just like him to exploit CA and FBI "assets". Never worked a day in his life! That ORANGE psychopathic NARCISSIST!

    Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
    by Cat on Tue Mar 27th, 2018 at 08:26:03 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    short squeeze

    Tory gov's creation of the Skirpal Assault, timed with A50 draft text by EU gov and US announcement of a new tariff regime for EU27 goods, triggered a squeeze on UK short sellers.

    The salient point to remember is, Tory gov are innocent, whether or not Tory gov ever identifies, apprehends, and prosecutes that attack on Britain by unknown assailants.

    Alrighty then.

    Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

    by Cat on Fri Mar 23rd, 2018 at 09:40:25 PM EST
    EU says Trump putting 'gun to our head[s]', seeks permanent tariff exemption, coincidentally

    Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
    by Cat on Fri Mar 23rd, 2018 at 11:57:10 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Wall Street nosedives as investors flee on trade war fears
    "increasingly nervous about a potential U.S. trade war with China" [!] while
    Cecilia Malmstrom, the trade commissioner who negotiates on behalf of the 28 [!] nations, said Europeans did not want to be penalised by actions prompted largely by accusations of Chinese dumping and said Washington and Brussels should be cooperating.

    Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
    by Cat on Sat Mar 24th, 2018 at 12:24:42 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    British accusations `outrageous'
    Sir, - The letter by the British ambassador in Dublin (March 22nd) shows that someone in London has decided that an all-out defamatory attack against Russia waged by the British government is not convincing enough for the Irish public. Hence, we have been witnessing this recycling of Theresa May and Boris Johnson's baseless and outrageous accusations of Russian state involvement in the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury on March 4th.

    Let's put the record straight.

    We wish Yulia Scripal and Sergei Skripal well, but we are concerned since nobody knows exactly their condition. From the very beginning, all official requests by the Russian embassy in London for consular access to Ms Skripal and relevant information have been denied. Neither has the general public any idea what is really going on, except a statement by the Scotland Yard saying that Mr and Ms Skripal are at a safe location and that a few months are needed to complete the investigation. Nobody has seen any proof of Russian involvement in the incident.

    Russia has nothing to do with the incident in Salisbury. It has been stated many times by the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and just recently reiterated by President Vladimir Putin. Russia does not have a policy of eliminating opponents. Russia would have no motive for going after Mr Skripal.

    Russia does not consider Mr Skripal a defector.

    He had been sentenced by a Russian court for high treason, served four years in prison and was later exchanged in a spy swap.

    Mr Skripal presented no interest or threat to the Russian authorities, and he was essentially written off and forgotten.


    Press Secretary,
    Embassy of the Russian Federation in Ireland,

    Index of Frank's Diaries
    by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Mar 24th, 2018 at 11:51:10 AM EST
    Statement by Peter Wilson, UK Ambassador to the OPCW, in  November 2017.
    Marked the completion of the verified destruction of Russia's declared chemical weapons programme
    by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Apr 4th, 2018 at 09:24:08 AM EST

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