UK Prime Minister Theresa May believes the Skripal case is “an unlawful use of force by the Russian state against the United Kingdom.” Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson chimes in, saying that Russia undermines the “fundamental basis of international order”. A bipartisan legislative initiative has been recently introduced in US Congress in support for the UK government. It says Moscow has violated international law. Now, let’s look who is talking!
So, London states that Moscow spurns the universally adopted rules and the Salisbury case is a fresh example to confirm this affirmation. A look at the facts gives a reason to take it with a grain of salt. What do we know so far? Two Russian citizens have been reported to be poisoned on the territory of the UK. Nothing is known about the culprits, no proof has been produced. Material evidence is being purposefully eliminated, be it a cat and guinea pigs dead after police sealed off the house for investigators or the bench where Sergei Skripal and his daughter were found slumped after leaving the restaurant. No questions the Russian Foreign Ministry asked have been answered. The very fact the Skripals were poisoned has never been proven. The international community has to take the UK government’s word for it.
Russia has been denied consular access to the Skripals who hold Russian citizenship. This is a flagrant violation of the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and the 1968 consular agreement signed between the former Soviet Union and the UK under which the parties are to provide access to the other side’s nationals on their soil. Sergei Skripal’s niece, Viktoria, has been denied entrance visa to the UK for no reason. London is considering the possibility of the Skripals’ secret resettlement, probably in the US. With no access to them, there is no way to know that it will be done in accordance with their will. It looks very much like an abduction or illegal isolation. The poisoning is not proven but the abduction is there for everyone to see.
Gone overseas with new identities, they’ll never provide openly any evidence for the investigation. And whatever they say being in hiding cannot be taken at face value as the version of events could be presented under pressure with their mental health conditions unknown. Suppose video footages will be produced to show the Skripals blaming Russia. How can we know they are not speaking under duress?
Now let's get back to the subject at hand. UK police and customs services performed a search aboard an Aeroflot Airbus A321 aircraft after it landed in Heathrow on March 29. It was done in the absence of the crew, which was to accompany the inspectors according to the rules. The captain was locked in the cabin. No explanation was given, no written document was provided to specify the reasons for the search. This is a gross breach of rules. What we see is one violation of the international law after another.
For the last 15 years, Britain has declined 60 out of 83 Russian requests for extradition of people accused of committing crimes. 55 of them have been granted refugee status or asylum in the country. The largest number of denials was issued in the period between 2010 and 2016 during the incumbent PM’s tenure as home secretary. Moscow never received any information regarding investigations into the deaths of Russian businessman Boris Berezovsky and FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko.
Classifying the Salisbury poisoning case is also a breach of law. Expelling Russian diplomats before a report from the OPCW has nothing to do with the established diplomatic practice. It’s rather amusing to hear the calls for observing the rules from the country that never repented of such illegal actions as the bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, the unprovoked 2003 invasion of Iraq or the participation in the NATO attack against Libya in 2011 – the operation evidently going beyond the terms of the UN resolution 1973/2011. Today, British commando teams are illegally operating on Syrian soil. If the UK joins a US-led sustained operation in Syria, it’ll be in gross violation of international law again.
Before you accuse me, take a look at yourself, they say. It’s either you comply with obligations or you don’t. London is breaching elementary rules of inter-state relations and the Salisbury case is a good example to bolster the claim. The UK makes mockery of international law, while blaming others for its violations.