March 16, 2018
The Skripal incident is now, by chance or by design, part of a much larger campaign about ‘western’ dominance over ‘the east’. Russia, which ended the unilateral moment of U.S. nuclear primacy, is currently the main target. The situation is extremely dangerous as any further escalation, in the Middle East, the Ukraine ore elsewhere, might lead to a war between nuclear armed powers.
The government decreed ‘truth’ about the Skripal case has many discrepancies. The connection of the case to Russia is much weaker than the propaganda claims. But doubt and dissent about it are not allowed to prevail.
The political response to the incident around the British-Russian double-agent Sergej Skripal and his daughter started slowly. On Sunday, the 4th of March, Skripal and his daughter were found unconscious on a public bench in Salisbury, England. The local police and emergency services took care of them.
Only on March 8 did the case start to make larger waves. The BBC reported:
Addressing the House of Commons, the home secretary [Rudd] said the attack was “attempted murder in the most cruel and public way”.
She refused to speculate on whether the Russian state might have been involved in the attack, saying the police investigation should be based on “facts, not rumour”.
Besides Skripal and his daughter one police officer was affected:
A police officer, who was in intensive care, is now “stable and conscious”, Wiltshire’s chief constable said.
It is unclear where the officer is thought to have contacted the alleged poison. Some reports said it was at Skripal’s house, others say that it was at the bench where the Skripal’s collapsed.
But a doctor and others who administered first aid were not affected at all:
Meanwhile, a doctor who was one of the first people at the scene has described how she found Ms Skripal slumped unconscious on a bench, vomiting and fitting. She had also lost control of her bodily functions.
The woman, who asked not to be named, told the BBC she moved Ms Skripal into the recovery position and opened her airway, as others tended to her father.
She said she treated her for almost 30 minutes, saying there was no sign of any chemical agent on Ms Skripal’s face or body.
The doctor said she had been worried she would be affected by the nerve agent, but added that she “feels fine”.
This seems to exclude a highly toxic poison or a substance that is taken up through the skin. But how then was the police officer affected?
The Salisbury Journal noted on March 5:
Emergency services at the scene suspected the substance may have been a powerful drug called fentanyl, …
In November 2017 the Salisbury Journal reported on an unrelated heroin and carfentanyl overdose case. (Carfentanyl is a strong analog of fentanyl.) The local emergency services are surely acquainted with such drugs.
The Skripal’s are said to be still alive. No details about the alleged poison were published and no medical bulletin about their current state.
After a slow start the British government is now making an immense show out of the case by involving the army and by sending out lots of people in obviously unnecessary high protection gear.
It also planted lots of rumors. On March 9 it was said that the poison likely came from inside Mr. Skripal’s house. Three days ago claims were made that it was smeared on the door handle of Skripal’s car, today it is supposed to have come out of the suitcase of Skripal’s daughter. All these claims are based on leaks from anonymous official sources. It is likely that none of them is true.
Today, twelve days after the incident, it is still unknown what chemical substance the alleged poison exactly is and where and how it was administered.
Former British ambassador Craig Murray reports that the British chemical weapon laboratory at Porton Down, just 8 miles from where the incident happened, is unsure about what substance (if any) was actually involved:
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.
Blaming Russia for the use of a poison “of a type developed by Russia” (i.e. the Soviet Union) is like blaming Germany for all current Heroin addicts because the Deutsche Reich company Bayer developed the mass-production of Heroin as a sedative for coughs.
In her “45 minutes” speech on March 12 Theresa May used this wording:
It is now clear that Mr Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia. It is part of a group of nerve agents known as Novichok.
“Of a type developed by Russia” is now the standard formulation that the British government and its allies are using. This is supposed to refer to a zoo of chemical substances, the Novichoks, that back in the 1980s a Soviet laboratory in today’s Uzbekistan may have researched as potential chemical weapons. There are serious doubts, including from a leading Porton Down scientist, that these Novichoks actually exist.
So where is the ‘Novichok’ talk coming from? Well, someone in the British government propaganda staff watched the current seasons of the British-American spy drama Strike Back. Nina Byzantina points to the summaries of recent episodes:
Episode 50 ran in the U.K on November 21 2017 and in the U.S. on February 23 2018:
Meanwhile, General Lázsló shuts down Section 20, forcing Donovan to work in secret. She discovers that Zaryn is in fact Karim Markov, a Russian scientist who allegedly killed his colleagues with Novichok, a nerve agent they invented.
Episodes 51 ran in the U.K on November 28 2017 and in the U.S. on March 2 2018:
Section 20 track Berisovich’s meth lab in Turov where Markov is making more Novichok and destroy it, though Berisovich escapes with Markov.
Episodes 52 ran in the U.K on January 31 2018 and in the U.S. on March 9 2018:
Section 20 track down Maya, a local Muslim woman Lowry radicalised, to a local airport. When she attempts to release theNovichok, Reynolds shoots her. The Novichok is fake however, as Berisovich does not want an attack committed in his country. … By the time Section 20 arrives, Berisovich had already called in the FSB to extract Markov and confiscate the Novichok. Yuri resurfaces to kill McAllister and Wyatt. However they turn the tables and strangle him to death. They then manage to engage the FSB and contain the gas. But in the process Reynolds is exposed. Markov works on an antidote but is killed by the Russians before he can complete. McAllister improvises and saves Reynolds, before Novin blows up the lab. Lowry uses the remainder of the gas to kill Berisovich for trying to betray her.
Isn’t it astonishing how ‘life’ follows the course of last week’s TV drama? Or did the TV drama follow a larger pre-written script? (Remember the X-Files pilot episode (vid) in March 2001 which ‘predicted’ 9/11?) Who really gave the British government the idea to blame Russia and Novichoks for the incident that involved the Skripals? Were it the experts at Porton Down, some spy drama on current TV or a propaganda agency?
The Soviet chemist Vil Mirzanyanov, who now lives in the U.S., is the only person who claims that Novichocks were real chemical weapons. Neither Porton Down nor the OPCW have accepted that claim. In 2007 Mirzanyanov wrote a still available book about his work at the Soviet laboratory in Uzbekistan and published the chemical formulas of some alleged Novichok substances. But, as Mirzanyanov concedes, such Novichok substances, if these were involved at all, are by no means an exclusively Russian issue. Vil Mirzanyanov’s much publicized book made sure of that. As today’s Wall Street Journalexplains:
That publicity led its chemical structure to be leaked, making it readily available for reproduction elsewhere, said Ralf Trapp, a France-based consultant on the control of chemical and biological weapons.
“The chemical formula has been publicized and we know from publications from then-Czechoslovakia thatthey had worked on similar agents for defense in the 1980s,” he said. “I’m sure other countries with developed programs would have as well.”
“The understanding at the time was that even though Russia was working on it and developing it, they didn’t actually stockpile Novichok agents or precursors,” said Mr. Trapp.
The formulas are known and several other countries have worked on similar stuff. Anyone with a decent laboratory and some expert knowledge can make such poisons. This explains why the experts in Porton Down would not blame Russia and why the British government, eager to blame Russia, can only talk about “a type developed by Russia”.
The WSJ piece also explains why it will be difficult to find out from where, when and how the alleged poisons came to Salisbury:
The components used to make Novichok are readily available, but their short lifespan and the risks involved in using it demand professional expertise, scientific and arms experts said.
Finding a trail of Novichok would be more difficult because it is carried in two parts that are combined to create a viscous liquid only shortly before use, said Mr. Trapp.
Mr. Trapp is a seriousexpert on the issue. He says that the Novichok agents are binary agents made from readily available substances and have a short live span. These characteristics will make it practically impossible to find a real culprit.
Russia, which the British government and now also its allies blame without presenting evidence, had no reason to attack the Skripal’s. Mr. Skripal, the British double agent, was released from a Russian jail in a 2010 spy-swap. He has lived openly in Britain for eight years. If this was an act of Russian revenge why wait so long? Killing him would also endanger those Russian spies who came back to Russia in exchange for Skripal’s freedom. It would impede any future exchange. There is no plausible reason for Russia to do such, especially not in current atmosphere.
There must be other reasons why Skripal was attacked, if he was, with some more recent motive than the one attributed to Russia.
Elijah Magnier, with decades of experience as war correspondent, tries to fit the incident into the larger picture of the U.S.-Russian proxy war in the Middle East:
The US and the International community tried to stop the battles of al-Ghouta to no avail. This prompted Washington to exercise its favourite hobby of imposing sanctions on Russia, without succeeding in stopping the Syrian army (fighting without its allies – except Russia) from recovering its control over Ghouta. The answer came immediately from Moscow by bombing Daraa and hitting al-Qaeda’s area of influence in an indication as to where the future theatre of military operations is expected to be.
Again, events are moving very fast: the US response came quickly through its UK ally when Britain took advantage of the poisoning of the former Russian spy Sergey Skripal in London to accuse Moscow of being behind his assassination. The message here is clear: all means are legitimate for the control of the Middle East, specifically Syria.
I am not sure that this claim fits the timeline. The British already hinted at Russian culpability on March 8. Reuters reported the March 12 Deraa bombing at 1:16 PM. The British prime minister May raised her accusations against Russia only a few hours later. To prepare and negotiate her statement with Porton Down likely took longer than that.
The Skripal incident has its origin in something different, likely in his supposed involvement in the dirty Steele dossier which targeted Donald Trump. (More interesting background to the Skripal-Steele connection can be found at UKColumn.) May’s statement was not prompted by the Syrian-Russian bombing in Deraa governorate but is a part of the general anti-Russian campaign.
Magnier is right though to point out that a further escalation is quite possible:
The Syrian war is far from being a normal one. It is THE war between two superpowers and their allies, where US and Russian soldiers are directly involved on the ground in a war of domination and power. The lack of victory in the US eyes is worse than losing a battle. Even more, the victory of Russia and its allies on Syrian soil in any battle is therefore a direct blow to the heart of Washington and its allies.
The superpowers are on the verge of the abyss, so the danger of falling into a war of cosmic proposition is no longer confined to the imagination or merely a sensational part of unrealistic calculations.
The immense media scare and publicity of the Skripal drama is likely centrally directed. Someone is pressing NATO countries as well as thoughtful politicians to get on the side of the aggressive anti-Russian campaign. The French government spokesperson first rejected the accusations Theresa May made against Russia. It demanded proof:
“We don’t do fantasy politics. Once the elements are proven, then the time will come for decisions to be made,” Griveaux told a news conference shortly after May said she was expelling Russian diplomats and suspending bilateral talks.
A day later and without further evidence coming to light France folded and joined others in accusing Russia because someone allegedly used a poison “of a type developed by Russia”.
The British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn warned of taking steps against Russia without first presenting evidence. He was immediately assaulted in a vicious propaganda campaign.
(If RT would do similar it would immediately lose its UK license.) – bigger
Corbyn too folded and now even makes claims that May has never made:
Theresa May was right on Monday to identify two possibilities for the source of the attack in Salisbury, given that the nerve agent used has been identified as of original Russian manufacture.
Theresa May’s careful wording “of a type developed by Russia” does not imply a specific agent nor Russian manufacturing. Corbyn fell into the trap.
What we are seeing here with the Skripal incident and the “Novichok” claims is a gigantic propaganda campaign comparable to the 2001 Anthrax scare in the U.S. and the whole “weapons of mass destruction” campaign that heralded the U.S./UK war on Iraq.
Provoking Russia further will not end well. Rattlesnakes are shy, but at some point they have no other way out than to bite.
If we want to prevent a unpredictable clash between nuclear armed powers, which could kill millions within just a few moments, we must all publicly voice our doubts and expose the false accusations made against Russia and other countries.