A new sanctions policy to punish those who distribute and use chemical weapons was given its final stamp of approval by EU foreign ministers on Oct.15. From now on, these punitive measures will be imposed “on individuals and entities involved in the development and use of chemical weapons, regardless of where it occurs, and their nationality.” The new regime, proposed by France and the UK, allows for asset freezes and travel bans to be imposed on individuals and entities who have been linked to chemical weapons use. EU persons and entities are not permitted to make funds available to those on the list. That decision came in the wake of chemical weapons (CW) attacks in Syria and the so called “Skripal poisoning case” in the UK, for which Russia has been blamed without any evidence ever being produced. The restrictions will also apply to those who indirectly support CW-related activities.
The EU already has sanctions lists that have been drawn up for Syria and Russia. The new policy allows names to be added without long debates, if approved by all EU governments. The move is to be followed by a similar policy on human-rights violations that permits individuals to be sanctioned for abuses or corruption.
In June, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was authorized to attribute blame for alleged wrongdoings. The EU strongly supported the decision, while Russia opposed it on the grounds that the watchdog group was usurping the power of the UN Security Council. Neither the EU nor the OPCW are courts able to hand down final rulings. It should be noted that Moscow, the main target of the new policy instituted by the EU, eliminated its chemical weapons stockpiles on September 2017. The US still has not met even half of its international obligations. Should it be sanctioned by the EU? And Porton Down? What is going on in that lab?
The US, a country that still possesses CW, has attacked Syria, blaming it for the use of prohibited substances despite multiple forms of evidence that the chemical attacks were staged by rebels. The Douma attack in Syria was another link in this chain of false-flag provocations. The White Helmets are an organization that is known to be staging them. In the same manner, the “Skripal poisoning” story that has been presented by the British government has too many holes.
Evidence is seemingly not the most important thing. The goal is to paint Russia as a rogue state opposed by the EU, and it needs consensus to accomplish that. The migrant issue, Brexit, EU governance reforms, and ideas such as the creation of a “multi-speed” Europe threaten the very existence of the European Union. It needs a bogeyman to hold it together, and Russia is to play this role. The West’s unity is under threat as well, so the EU is following the example set by the United States.
And that bogeyman is being used assiduously to instill fear. On Oct. 4, Dutch security officials claimed they had thwarted an attack staged by Russia's military intelligence against the OPCW, where the Skripal poisoning was being investigated. They failed to explain why it took them six months to make this information public. It was revealed only five days before the opening of the 89th session of the OPCW’s Executive Council, during which the financing of the attributive mechanism was being discussed within the Organization’s Technical Secretariat. What a coincidence!
Last month, French Defense Minister Florence Parly stated (and she was dead serious) that Russia had attempted to intercept transmissions from a Franco-Italian satellite used by both nations’ militaries for secure communications. “An act of espionage!” the minister exclaimed. “We are in danger. Our communications, our military exercises, our daily lives are in danger if we do not react,” she explained. It’s just a part of the broader picture. Russia has been accused of testing the capabilities of satellites operated by other nations in order to disable or destroy them. The story is brought up any time the idea of the US and its allies weaponizing space needs to be justified.
In August, German counterintelligence (BfV) officials informed the public about Russian “spies” who were “very active” in Germany. Disinformation is spread, elections are influenced, and officials and citizens are targeted as potential sources of information for Russia intelligence services, etc. The officials all described this in their annual report. Not scary enough? All right, here is another horror story.
Putin is building a Bosnian paramilitary force. Still unimpressed? In July, US Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced that 12 individuals had been charged as part of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Meanwhile, the Russian armed forces are being deployed to Libya. The British Sun has all the details.
The Western media is very busy nowadays circulating new fantasies about that perfidious Moscow having a finger in every pie. Now the EU has a new instrument in place to disseminate “chemical stories” and generate new sanctions targeted at Russia, thus keeping Europe’s ship afloat. But Europe’s troubles will continue. It was not Russia who imposed the policy on migrants on the EU. There is no way that Russia could have convinced the British to renounce their EU membership during their referendum. Moscow is not the author of the EU’s “multi-speed” concept and it has nothing to do with the issues that are prompting Poland and Hungary to oppose the EU majority. It’s the US, not Russia, who unleashed the tariff war against the EU. It was the American president who called the EU a foe. Moscow never used that word. The EU would have done better concentrating on ways to tackle the real problems it faces and the real challenges it has to meet, rather than creating “policies” to fight imaginary threats.