The Skripal Provocatsia* – what comes next?

The Skripal Provocatsia – what comes next? The day after it was announced that Australia would be expelling two Russian diplomats because of the Skripal poisoning, I had a letter published in the Sydney Morning Herald.

It said:

“Are we going crazy? Will no-one stand up and challenge our leaders, who poke the Russian bear like kids at a zoo because they heard it stole someone’s lunch?

The Government says it acts “in solidarity” with the UK following an alleged attack with an alleged nerve agent which is alleged to have come from Russia. Yet because Moscow denies these frankly ridiculous allegations, we must conclude that the UK and its allies are involved in a dangerous provocation.

This apparent drive towards confrontation – which Russia and her many allies see as threatening “hot war” – cannot go unchallenged.

And we should bear in mind to check the door to the Bear’s cage before poking it any further.”

Alongside my letter and several others on the subject was an editorial, which seemed to confirm my feeling that some of us already have gone crazy, and think that “poking the bear” some more is not just necessary but a good idea.

While the author of this piece never uses the word “alleged”, he does admit that the evidence for Russian culpability is lacking. But that doesn’t matter, because this is apparently the sort of thing that “Putin” does, and because no-one else could be responsible!  The editor says that: –

“the Skripals, even with the margin of doubt that surrounds their case have come to symbolise all of Europe’s and NATO’s problems with Russia.”

Leaving aside that Australia is not physically part of Europe or NATO, and may actually have some interests that do not coincide with those of our Western allies, the venomous sentiments that follow in this leading Australian newspaper are extraordinarily misplaced:

 “The affair is not just about the fate of the two individual targets and the policeman who helped them and was also poisoned, but all the victims, great and small, of the Putin regime’s aggressions – from the dissidents and journalists who are regularly murdered for exposing corruption or malfeasance, to the victims of Russia’s territorial aggression in Ukraine – not least the passengers on Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, shot down by Russian-backed rebels – to the voters in countries near and far whose elections he has rorted. The gamut of Mr Putin’s mischief-making explains the breadth of anger against him over the Skripal incident.”

Can it really be true that the “breadth of anger against Putin” – which certainly extends to the mainstream media and most leaders and commentators – sits on such shallow foundations? What will these people do when it emerges, as it surely must, that the Skripal “incident” is just another provocatsia in the lengthening list of such Western-sponsored crimes against Russia?

Even the Sydney Morning Herald seems reluctant to believe that “Putin” would do such a stupid thing as this, but still does so because it sees no other possibility. For them it is inconceivable that “we” – that is we of the English-speaking world – would contrive to deceive our own citizens or even kill them to gain advantage over Russia.

Yet they have no hesitation in accusing “the Putin Regime” of “regularly murdering dissidents and journalists”, helping “rebels” shoot down MH17, or of – presumably – “bombing hospitals and markets” in Syria.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova evidently also finds it hard to understand how the British Government could seek to trick and frighten its own citizens in this way – though that is her entirely logical conclusion. This Vesti interview with Zakharova is a fine example of straightforward and honest journalism, and of her formidable intellect applied to this extraordinary provocation.

Zakharova’s points were vigorously defended following the government’s announcement of the expulsion of two Russian diplomats, in an hour long press conference by Russia’s ambassador in Canberra Grigory Logvinov. Thanks no doubt to the continuing stream of details about the Skripal story that have totally destroyed what little credibility it might have had, Ambassador Logvinov was quite blunt with the incredulous press pack.

But he may as well have told them the moon was made of cheese; nothing short of an “admission of Russia’s guilt” would satisfy their paralysed imaginations. But of course nothing less than an admission from the UK of organising a provocation could now satisfy us.

Sadly however, this cannot be the end of the “Skripal Affair”, because the UK and the 25 nations who have signed up to its dirty game cannot admit fault or guilt now, and are still possessed by the same ill intent against Russia that inspired them in the first place. That they would do such a thing must also make us fearful of just what “ill” they really intend.

David Macilwain

*Provocation (in Russian)

The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Vremya.