Prime Minister Theresa May made a statement to accuse Russia of being behind the Skripal poisoning case. She went to address the parliament right after prosecutors accused two Russian men, allegedly military intelligence officers, to perpetrate the assassination attempt. These are the first criminal charges in the case that has spoiled the West-Russian relations so much. The British government has issued EU arrest warrants and Interpol red notices to have the two individuals arrested by police in any country should they leave Russia’s territory.
According to the PM, Great Britain and its friends must step up collective efforts against Russia. Its military intelligence service (the GRU) is to be specifically targeted employing “the full range of tools from across our national security apparatus.” Before making the speech that sounded hostile toward Moscow, the PM had talked the matter over with US President Trump and other friendly world leaders. Ms May is expected to raise the issue at the UN General Assembly later this month. No doubt, London will ask the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to investigate the case. The UK will probably impose sanctions of its own and call on others to join. As usual, media “leaks” will pour more fuel on the fire. Anti-Russia forces in the West will get the second wind.
Ben Wallace, Minister of State for Security at the Home Office, attributed direct blame on Russian President Vladimir, something Ms. May avoided to do. He said the Russian leader bears responsibility for the nerve agent attack.
The photos of two men that have visited the UK are not evidence to support the PM’ claims. "We have heard or seen two names, these names mean nothing to me personally," Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov told reporters in Moscow. "I don't understand why this was done and what sort of signal the British side is sending." But one thing is curtain – the British government wants as much noise and publicity as possible. It raises hue and cry in an evident attempt to further deteriorate the West-Russia relations and it does it on purpose. Why now? Because this is the right time to pursue the hidden agenda.
US Ambassador to Britain Woody Johnson said on Twitter: "The US and UK stand firmly together in holding Russia accountable for its act of aggression on UK soil." He was quick to react. Evidently, Mr Johnson wasted no time on waiting for instructions. It had all been known, discussed and decided before.
By spearheading the anti-Russia campaign in the West, London increases its political weight before Brexit takes place. With its unity in peril, the West needs something to keep it together and the Russia’s bogey comes in handy.
The second round of US sanctions imposed to punish Russia for the alleged, but never proven, use of nerve agents, is much tougher than the first one in force since August. It is to take effect in November – the same month US midterm elections take place.
The “Skripal sanctions” are not introduced by Congress but the State Department. It’s up to the president to impose them or not. If President Trump’s party keeps the majority in both houses, the pressure to prove he is tough on Russia will ease. The president may soften the sanctions or not impose them at all. The reinvigoration of “Skripal poisoning” campaign will make it much harder to do. Donald Trump as well as EU leaders will be under constant pressure to do more to counter Russia.
True, the EU is not interested in whipping up tensions in its relationship with Russia amid the sanctions war and other things to deteriorate its relationship with the United States. But on the other hand, Eurosceptics, who are friendly to Moscow, are predicted to win big in the European parliament election in May. They may get every third vote and have enough seats to stymie the functioning of the “unreformed” EU as we know it today. It will put into jeopardy the very survival of the bloc. Many of Eurosceptics want the relations with Russia normalized and the sanctions lifted. Be it Skripal or something else, an anti-Russia campaign is needed to attack them. They’ll be painted as “useful idiots” or “traitors” promoting Russia’s evil plans to destroy the West. Here again, the imaginary “Russia threat” serves the purpose perfectly.
The events in Syria are distorted to denigrate Russia but that’s happening far away. Spreading around the stories about Moscow using chemical weapons in Europe may have the desired effect to keep voters away from throwing their support behind those who can change the European political landscape.
There is actually nothing new in what the British PM stated. It’s not so important what exactly she said. It’s timing that matters. The moment is right for anti-Russia hysteria to be given a fresh impetus. Will this tactics work? The November elections in the US and the European elections in May will show. The closer is the vote, the more concocted stories about the nefarious Russia’s activities will come into the spotlight.