Far From The Madding Crowd

When ‘highly unlikely’ leads to ‘overwhelming’

Twenty four years ago, little did a Boris while slumbering on a plane parked on a Shannon runway, no doubt intoxicated on Russian Vodka, dream that his hand-picked successor, Vladimir Putin, would be the mark for the ire of another Boris, Boris Johnson, UK Foreign Secretary.

Besides time and the sharing of a similar appellation, a correlation that is ended by nationality, language and Johnson's privately paid for public schooling which is seldom mirrored by his words and actions.

Johnson in responding to a nerve gas attack on once double-agent and ex-Soviet spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury on the 04th March described the evidence as ‘overwhelming’ that Russia was responsible because only Russia had access to the poison and also a motive for the attack.
There is something in the kind of smug, sarcastic response that we're heard from the Russians that to me betokens their fundamental guilt ... They want to simultaneously deny it and yet at the same time to glory in it.

Johnson and May in ‘highly likely’ determining that the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok (newcomer) was used in the attack have ascribed its responsibility to be ‘highly likely’ Russia.

In the Commons and while reporting to the House on this despicable violation of Britain's sovereignty, from May's lackey's, both Tory and Labour, howls of traitor directed at the leader of the opposition, Corbyn, rang around the Commons, when he had the gall to call for more concrete evidence to be produced and advised a more cautious approach to laying the blame at the door of the Kremlin without such evidence.

A call for caution based on the bloody consequences of that infamous Commons deceit by another British prime minister and in reference to those illusive Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Delivering her ultimatum to Moscow, requiring them to explain the attack, which is something that she nor her intelligence agencies were capable off, or she would conclude it as an “unlawful use of force” by Russia against the UK and withdraw the Royals from attending the World Cup in the summer. 

Russia's response was as to be expected: Moscow's envoy to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya - Russia does not “speak the language of ultimatums” and will not “be spoken to in that language either”

May responded in her statement to Parliament that:

Their response demonstrated complete disdain for the gravity of these events. They have treated the use of a military-grade nerve agent in Europe with sarcasm, contempt and defiance.

Odd, that she should extend the attack to incorporate a group of countries that she and her Brexit cronies currently treat with disdain.

Backed by her Secretary of Defence Gavin Williamson on threats by Russia to reciprocate the expulsion gesture: “Russia should go away, it should shut up”.....which kind of undermines May's call for an explanation!

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has hit back at Theresa May and Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson over the allegations saying the Kremlin has "stopped paying attention".

Mays decision to expel Russian diplomats from the UK, described by Russia's ambassador to the UK, Alexander Vladimirovich Yakovenko, as "absolutely unacceptable" and "a provocation" and urged her to "follow international law" angered Moscow to the point where Lavrov told reporters Moscow intended to dismiss British diplomats in retaliation and said that he considered the UK's response a violation of international agreements.
Unlike Boris Johnson's pedigree education, Gavin Williamson's was called in to question when his demand that Russia shut up was responded too by Lavrov with a "Maybe he lacks education."

America, never one to concern itself with evidence Trumped in, both feet first, and threw its mighty weight unambiguously behind May. Followed closely by the newly re-instated German Chancellor Merkel and her Germany.

France, remembering their racist treatment by the British after they refused to support the British in their deceitful claims of WMD, initially described May's accusations as ‘Fantasy Politics’ and had asked for discourse with the Russians and not punitive measures. But after a phone call from the British, this stance decisively changed and they fully threw their support to the British side.

The Irish, now in a position of importance on the world political stage due to Brexit have yet to make their mind up but their media outlets have tended to dismiss the British claims as what the French called ‘Fantasy Politics’.

But let us pause and reflect on the events so far.

Sergie Skripal, 66, ex-Soviet spy and double agent and his daughter Yulia, 33, were found unconscious on 4 March in the centre of Salisbury and remain critically ill in hospital.

⧪ Theresa May claims tests showed a Soviet-era nerve agent known as Novichok (newcomer) was used in the attack, and that Russia was therefore "highly likely" to be responsible.

⧪ Corbyn voices concerns over lack of evidence and British governments approach to the Russians.

⧪ Novichock was apparently developed in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. After Uzbekistan became independent from the Soviet Union, the USA helped it to destroy stockpiles.

⧪·Between 1999[23] and 2002 the United States Department of Defence dismantled the major research and testing site for Novichok at the Chemical Research Institute in Nukus, under a $6 million Cooperative Threat Reduction program.

But ...

There are even many doubts about the existence of the nerve agent, Novichok itself:

Craig Murray is an author, broadcaster and human rights activist. He was British Ambassador to Uzbekistan from August 2002 to October 2004 and Rector of the University of Dundee from 2007 to 2010.

Russia then alone is not the only country to have this nerve agent

Sergei Skripal was part of a legitimate ' Spy-Swop ' and the Russians normally honour this sort of arrangement. 

Comparisons with the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, poisoned with polonium in London in 2006, took place under very different circumstances. Litvinenko was not in Britain as part any officially sanctioned spy-swop deal between London and Moscow. Plus he was involved in activities that were strongly disapproved of by Russia whereas Skripal wasn’t.

City of choice - Séamus Martin is a former Irish Times Moscow correspondent:
London has become the city of choice for those who have made vast fortunes following the fall of the Soviet Union and not all of them have been squeaky-clean model citizens. Boris Berezovsky, for example, who employed Litvinenko, had been a prime suspect in organising the murder of American journalist Paul Klebnikov. Forbes Magazine, Klebnikov’s employer, continues on its website to point the finger in Berezovsky’s direction. A former British diplomat has told me in private that giving Berezovsky asylum was considered a major mistake in UK diplomatic circles.
The anti-Putin Berezovsky died in mysterious circumstances not long after he had lost a court case against pro-Putin oligarch Roman Abramovich, owner of Chelsea FC. British police ruled that his death was suicide but there are those in Britain who believe, or want to believe, he was murdered.
The oligarchs have been welcomed in London financial circles because of the amount of their money. They have been welcomed too by May’s Conservative party, which, according to recent reports in the London Times and Daily Telegraph, has received donations of £820,000 from Russian sources. Chancellor Philip Hammond has refused to return the money because he did not want to tar the oligarchs “with Putin’s brush”.
Perhaps it is time to realise that if your country becomes a haven for dodgy people like Berezovsky then dodgy things are likely to happen.

Another as yet unqualified report:

A chemical weapons factory in Eastern Ghouta in Syria was captured intact by advancing Assad forces. All equipment in it was of western origin and from captured documentation supplied by Saudi Arabia. At the UN and under the guise of a ceasefire, America announced unilateral air strikes on realising that the factory had been captured but were thwarted after Russia warned that they would retaliate by destroy the striking projectiles and their launchers!
The story has yet to break in to the mainstream media but it does raise the question of just who is using chemical weapons and where? Could Sergie Skripal's attack be related? And could this explain France's change of heart from ‘Fantasy Politics’ to full support? Perhaps the paper trail leads further West rather than South to Saudi Arabia!

But I leave you with these thoughts.

‘Circling Over Shannon’ – A descriptive expression bequeathed to Ireland by Boris Yeltsin (the original Boris) for a visit he never made and an accompaniment to a list of other well-known Irish expressions such as stocious, langered, plastered and rat-arsed.

Ant and Dec Saturday Night take Away– It would seem that we are never far from the madding crowd of the Brexiteers and the DUP, whose reach can even be extended to influence the above TV show.

When Saturday Night Take Away launched their UK Battle of Great Britain they were at pains to emphasise that it was Great Britain and Northern Ireland – a reference that could lead to a fall in their TV ratings in Ireland, but ‘highly unlikely’.

Oh, and one final thought, what ever happened to NAMA?

Sean Mallory is a Tyrone republican and TPQ columnist 

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Anthony McIntyre

Former IRA prisoner, spent 18 years in Long Kesh. Free Speech advocate, writer, historian, humanist, and researcher.

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