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New and Noteworthy Russian Media Coverage of Spy Poisoning

Yakov Kedmi: Britain Will Not Go to War with Russia

 

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (R) and British Prime Minister Theresa May pictured during a meeting. (Getty Images)

by Lyubov Podgornaya

Britain believes that it is “highly likely” that Russia is behind the poisoning of former GRU colonel Sergey Skripal and his daughter.

British Prime Minister Theresa May claims that the former spy was poisoned by Russian gas “Novichok” (identified by the UK as A-234). However, the British government refuses to reveal the formula of the substance to Russia and involve Russia in the investigation. 23 diplomates were expelled from London. The same number of British diplomates will leave Russia. In addition, the British Council in Russia, an educational organization under the umbrella of the British Foreign Office, has been closed.

AiF discussed where this scandal could lead relations between London and Moscow with former head of Israeli Special Services (Nativ), Jakob Kedmi.

Ekaterina Barova, AiF: Could this gas be produced outside of Russia?

Jakob Kedmi: If the formula of the poison is known as well as its components then there is no problem to produce it in any laboratory.  As far as I know, “Novichok” is not one gas but the whole family of neuro agents. By the way, in the 90s, such a gas was used in fights between oligarchs. In 1995, banker Kivelidi was killed using this poison in Moscow; his phone was laced with it. His secretary who dusted there also died. At that time, anyone could buy this gas and nowadays anyone can produce and use this gas in London. A developer of poisonous substances, who has lived in the USA for 20 years, admits that this A-234 could have been easily made in other countries.

None of the statements made by Britain have been proven so far – it is all propaganda and speculation. I suspect that conducting an expert analysis is not within their interests. According to the samples and the gas composition, it is possible to determine where it was produced and where its components were produced. An example of a silly statement made by the British media is that the substance could have been sent in a suitcase with the daughter’s personal belongings. So, if you have her dress or cosmetics with traces of poison just show it! What is a problem?

Why did they start blaming Russia?

Great Britain purposefully makes such political disputes. Especially in light of the statement made by Foreign Minister Boris Jonson that Putin personally gave an order to poison Skripal. However, there are no attempts to investigate what happened. This is a political game. In order to answer the question, what is a purpose of it, we need to see what would be the result of this dispute.

Do you suppose that Russia can be involved in this poisoning? 

From the point of view of secret services Skripal was of no interest. He has already disclosed all the information that he could. He was arrested in Russia and during interrogations he admitted everything regarding the information he passed on to the British while he worked with them. There are hundreds of traitors like him and he is not the most valuable.

If they wanted to liquidate him out of revenge for being a traitor, they would have done it using other methods- more effective and less visible. For sure they would not have used a gas that leaves traces. Just remember how Bandera was liquidated in the USSR: he was shot in the face using a gas gun, but Germans investigating the case came to the conclusion that he died from a heart attack. If 50 years ago there were such opportunities, then what can we say about the present time?

Screenshot from Russian newspaper.

So, who had a motive then to kill Skripal?  

I cannot make assumptions without having the facts. And London does not share the facts. Was this poison gas and what poison was it exactly? When and how did the poisoning take place? All information in media about this is just speculation.

I assume it could be a personal vendetta which has happened before in Britain. The reason: whoever comes to the UK from Russia – gangsters, terrorists, escaped oligarchs – they all found shelter in UK. Let us just remember Berezovskiy – deputy secretary of Security Council under Yeltsin. What kind of disputes would such people have? The same as in 90s in Russia.

Why did Germany, France and the United States so actively support London in its unsubstantiated accusations?

They supported, not actively, but very passively. The British appealed to everyone. Israel made it clear that it was not going to get involved in such disputes.  There was condemnation of the poisoning but it was expressed by Moscow as well. However, Israel refused to blame Russia.

I would not say that Germany was very happy to support Britain. Merkel said that she would like Russia to take part in the investigation. France joined the statement with no enthusiasm as well. Even the US were compelled to do it because of their alliance Britain. The British simply tricked them.

Will the West boycott the World Cup?

If they decide to boycott the World Cup then they need to decide who will reimburse FIFA’s massive losses and the losses of all the investors.  FIFA will not allow it. The World Cup is a commercial event with huge profits. They will not allow politicians to take this money away.

The British media are discussing one more punishment, they say: we need to expel the children of Russian politicians and businessmen who are studying in the UK, we need to send their wives home and take assets from oligarchs. We need to take Chelsea back from Abramovich. Is this a realistic prospect?

First of all, it is not that easy to take anything from Abramovich. But even if they decide to do this, why it would worry Russia?! Wives and children are investments in the British economy and the British are not suicidal. It would be even better for Russia as all the investments will return to Russia. By the way, Moscow can demand Russian citizens to withdraw all their assets from Britain immediately. This way it will be a financial punishment.

Accusations that Russia used chemical weapons – could this be an attempt to link us to similar accusations against the Syrian government?

– It is possible. This is an attempt to lower the Russian government to the level of an “illegitimate regime” like Syria or Northern Korea, with all the ensuing consequences.

Is it possible that diplomatic relations between Moscow and London will break? Will the Americans be involved in this story?  

If the British continue in the same spirit, of course they can force Russia to break off diplomatic relations. The question is whether Russia be waiting or will take the first step.  The US will support Britain morally. Washington will not lose its interests because of Britain’s hysteria. What Trump is doing now, firing his officials one by one, is simply regaining power. And this is only the beginning. Do you seriously think that by dismissing the director of the CIA, Trump is not acting in his own interests but instead wants to implement the policies of the former mayor of London or Mrs May who cannot even understand what it means to give Russia an ultimatum?! They will not start a war with the strong Russian army – it is too expensive for them. They are afraid of a military clash with Russia. This is the only thing that can stop them.

By the way…

British services followed Chechen physicist Kamil Markov, the creator of neuro agent “Novichok”. The gas was in the hands of terrorists. They plan to spray it at Minsk airport with the help of a bomb carried by a suicide bomber. This is not a continuation of the story of Sergey Skripal, but the plot of the patriotic series of “Strike Back”. The series was released on January 31, 2018, one month before the former spy and his daughter were poisoned by “Novichok” in Salisbury. As someone joked on social media – maybe Theresa May watches the series and takes it as guidance for her policies.

This article was published on March 21, 2018 in Argumenty i Fakty, a government-owned Russian newspaper

 

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