The Guardian talking sense on Skripal?

Finally – a link to a Guardian story – that I can wholeheartedly recommend. (Almost wholeheartedly – there is an anti-Putin aside based on a social media story about Putin confusing a video of US fighting the Taliban with Russian forces fighting ISIS – the writer probably doesn’t understand how documentaries are filmed and that using footage that can be talked about but which may not be the actual footage referred to would be a normal part of making a documentary film – there is no doubt that Russian forces have engaged with ISIS so the comment is off the point).

With that small caveat aside Alexey Kovalev makes the key point. It seems now that either the Kremlin authorised the Skripal attack – or it was an attack by some branch of Russian intelligence and this organ is not on the same page at all as the Kremlin in terms of political and diplomatic strategy for Russia. Neither is a good situation – the latter probably much worse than the former for the West.

Alexey Kovalev is a Russian journalist. He works in Russia. (Once again  confirming that it is quite possible to be a critical journalist and work in Russia).

Update

The UK government has said:

We have repeatedly asked Russia to account for what happened in Salisbury in March. Today – just as we have seen throughout – they have responded with obfuscation and lies. [1]

This is a crude lie. British propaganda. The British government has “asked” nothing. From the very start they pointed a loaded gun at the Russian government and said “confess or… confess”. This point-blank approach would have removed any room for manoeuvre that the Kremlin had at all. One effect of this pressure could (we are still in the realms of speculation) have been to make the Kremlin feel that they should back up whoever did this since they had nothing left to lose. Though this theory can never be tested.

Notes

1. https://www.rt.com/uk/438362-skripal-salisbury-foreign-office/

 

 

 

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More babies than terrorists

The UK ambassador, Karen Pierce, said there were more babies than terrorists in Idlib, and named the Syrian forces preparing to attack the region, promising that they would be held accountable if indiscriminate attacks on civilians went ahead.

This is from the Guardian report on the possible assault on Al-Qaeda positions in Syria’s Idlib province by Syrian government forces supported by Iran and Russia.

This if of course an example of the current wave of babyish (even bestial at times) emotionalism which is sweeping (and swamping) all areas of UK life. To talk about “babies” in this context is an attempt to make some kind of emotional point. To “go for the emotions” – the modern tactic used by therapists, marketeers and now, it seems, UN representatives.

It is almost too obvious to point out but there were babies in Basra, and in Baghdad when the US/UK launched operation “shock and awe”. And there were babies in Libya in 2011 when NATO stretched a UN resolution to the point of absurdity to wipe out the stable government of that country. And there were babies in Raqqa in Syria when the US bombed it to free it from ISIS (see: Guardian report by Amnesty International researchers about the civilian death toll there). But the UK’s UN representative won’t be mentioning those babies.

What can those who don’t buy the government narrative do but continually point out that it is entirely selective in its professed humanitarian concerns? How does Karen Pierce sleep at night?

The UK government’s strategy on Skripal

The actions of the British government (that is the “deep state” – the forces which don’t change with the merry-go round of elections) has from the start had a very clear strategy in relation to the Skripal case. To understand this strategy one has to understand the political and economic backdrop against which it takes place.

Since Putin came to power (as an elected President) Russia has been evolving a clear development strategy – on both the domestic and international fronts. Domestically – under Putin – the country has been pursuing a course of both social and economic development. For example; social services have been modernised, often in line with the highest of Western standards, corruption at the higher levels has been tackled, there are projects to develop economic infrastructure such as roads and rail, large nationalised industries have been partially privatised, foreign investment capital has been sought and welcomed. Much of this is absolutely in line with what Western capitalists want. True; there are some limits. For example, foreign investment in certain sensitive sectors is subject to special controls. And, while, some of the major state energy companies have been partially sold (Rosneft, Gazprom) the government has retained a controlling stake. The policy is clear and consistent: the country is being modernised (including in the sense of joining the international capitalist system) but it is being done in a way which is of benefit to Russia. It is not the unconditional surrender to international finance of the Yeltsin years. It is reasonable to call this state capitalism.

For Western finance capital all this is welcome but not enough. Western finance capital has a clear expectation of governments. They exist to make conditions for business better; they should act as the servants of finance capital. This is how governments in the West, for example the British government, understand their role. The Russian government does not see its role in the sense.

On the international front Russia again has a clear strategy. The policy is to take part in international institutions – the UN, the WTO, the OPCW and so on. They have even accepted the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights via their now (suspended) membership of the Council of Europe. (Though more recently and following what they would see as abuse of this process in e.g. the Yukos case, they have enacted legislation to allow them to reject European Court of Human RIghts judgements which go against their national interest). Russia aims to pursue its national interests within the framework of international law. They do not intend to follow the West in its abuse of international law. The Russian acceptance of the Western campaign against Libya in 2011 – when the West far exceeded its UN Security mandate and plunged Libya into total chaos – is probably the last time that Russia will go along with the West’s regime change operations. In Syria they quite correctly state that they and not the West are acting in accordance with International Law.

This, naturally, is a disappointment for the Western imperialists who would like to see Russia either join in with or at least submissively permit all their regime change operations all over the world. (Russia permitted the NATO bombing of Bosnia in the mid 1990s while Yeltsin was President).

This is the context in which the British government’s response to Skripal should be understood. Both pillars of Russia’s political strategy are being attacked. On the international front it is essential to undermine Russia’s claim to be adhering to international law. Russia must be painted as a pariah state. Then, once again, the Western narrative that all its regime change operations are somehow legitimate humanitarian interventions can be reinstated without challenge. This is why the focus is so much on the chemical weapons aspect of the Skripal case. This is why the British government has dragged in the OPCW. The clear aim is to undermine Russia’s standing on the international stage. The second benefit of the Skripal case for the British government and the West is that it has provided the opportunity to enact more economic sanctions against Russia. Economic sanctions against Russia are a specific attack on the economic development policy of Russia, which we have outlined above. The message is clear and the Russians are intended to read it  – you can only take part in international capitalism and benefit from trade, investment and technology transfer if you submit politically to our rules. (Of course no one says that this is the message because Western publics would immediately realise that it is a cruel and unreasonable policy – this is why it is presented to Western publics in terms of a ‘punishment’ for ‘wrongdoing’).

The West is challenged by the progressive but nationalist policy of the Russian government. The West is actively trying to undermine this policy – by way of ‘regime change’ in Russia or otherwise. It is doing this by continually painting Russia as an international pariah and by unprovoked economic warfare. The aggressor is the West. As always. The Skripal case is being exploited by the current British government to further this policy of the West and to try to secure a leading role for Britain in the West.

 

 

 

 

Skripal

This is Craig Murray’s take on the recent Skripal case revelations (the naming of two suspects said to be working for Russian military intelligence).

His observant point about the timeline is interesting – based on the times now given by the police of the victims’ and suspects’ movements this leaves only a small frame between 12.00 and 13.15 on the day of the assassination attempt for the poison to have been applied to the “doorknob”.

It seems implausible that the would-be assassins turned up at a random time hoping that the Skripals would be out so they could calmly apply the poison to the doorknob and then leave. In the material presented by the police there has been nothing relating to other operatives or surveillance of the Skripals which could have helped the assassins know that the Skripals were out. We can posit then a meeting – the 2 would-be assasins met the Skripals on their doorstep. During this meeting they applied the poison to the door-knob. The meeting could have been by arrangement or not. (If not though surely the Skripals would have panicked having these 2 dodgy looking characters turn up on their doorstep unannounced – and called their MI6 handlers rather than popping into town for a quick coffee?). This modus operandi is similar to the assassination of Litvinenko – a meeting is set up and during the meeting the poison is administered.

We then have to assume that because of the method of administration – via a surface rather than direct application to the skin – the Skripals only came into contact with a tiny amount of the substance – which is why they were not killed.

If we follow this line of conjecture all we can suggest is that the Skripals were meeting someone / some people who they expected to look Russian and these people were their would-be assassins.

Do the revelations about these two suspects – who are said to have flown in from Russia – tell us who did it? Essentially no; all the three main theories (Kremlin ordered assassination; rogue elements in Russian intelligence and/or the mafia; a third-party state) remain in the running. The only theory which takes a slight dent from these revelations is the theory that the attack was staged by Ukrainian intelligence – as it would be quite challenging for Ukrainian intelligence to have sent two agents from Russia (and back again) with plausible fake Russian passports. If it was an unauthorised attack by Russian military intelligence that tells us that Putin is not in control (though of course we are continually told by the Western propaganda machine that Putin is fully in control). If it was a mafia hit then we might expect Russia to track down the perpetrators – why not? Of course the British position of trying to embarrass Russia by a series of media leaks rather than talking to them does not make it easy at all for Russia to say that it was done by the Russian mafia/unauthorised elements in their intelligence networks. – The British position – managed by MI6 and No. 10 – is aimed at extracting maximum political capital from this and trying to use it to discredit Putin personally. The British position – either confess you did it or confess to an unauthorised chemical weapons programme – has specifically closed off the door for Russia to admit that it was an attack by rogue agents – even if it was. Russia is only offered a single choice here – and all doors lead to the toppling of “Putin” – the main goal of the Western financial (“freedom”) elites at the moment.

In summary – we still can’t say who did it based on the actual evidence in the public domain. We can observe that the event is being used by No. 10 to try to attack and discredit Putin personally. To do this they are stage managing the media narrative in the British press. (This stage management of the ‘democratic’ media is a bit of an insult to the British public – but we know that these people have no conception of democracy so that is no surprise).

 

 

 

Guardian propaganda watch continued

It is hard to keep up with the Guardian’s anti-Russia propaganda.

Here are two examples from recent reports on developments in the Skripal case – the release of photographs of the alleged perpetrators:

Dmitry Gudkov, a Russian opposition politician, tweeted: “Meet Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, suspected by Britain of the poisoning of the Skripals. Possible MPs in the next parliament!”

Gudkov’s tweet was an allusion to Andrei Lugovoi, the former KGB agent who was accused by Britain of murdering the Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko with polonium-210, a rare radioactive isotope, in London in 2006. Lugovoi was elected to the Russian parliament in 2007 and now earns a reported £400,000 a year as an MP. He was also awarded a state honour by Putin. [1]

To describe Litvinenko as a “Kremlin critic” is part of creating the narrative “Putin murders his critics”. In fact Litvinenko was an ex Russian spy, turned traitor, who was working for British intelligence at the time of his assassination. The narrative that Putin murders double-agents doesn’t have quite the same ring to it which is why Litvinenko is described as a “Kremlin critic”.

According to RT which is likely to be better informed than Marc Bennetts for the Guardian a State Duma MP earns about USD 80,000.00 p.a. Marc Bennett’s £400,000.00 “as an MP” appears to be “fake news”.

 

This is a piece of creative writing from Luke Harding.  Whereas the police are content to present the facts such as they have them Harding is eager to join the dots with his fictional tale of a plane “trundling down an icy runway” (yes – it is always icy in Moscow Luke and that’s probably why they have ice in their hearts). “On hostile territory, Boshirov and Petrov operated in the manner of classic intelligence operatives” – that is on their way to a political assassination which would have massive repercussions for their country they allowed themselves to be captured without disguises by CCTV multiple times.

The Russian state may have been responsible for the apparent Skripal poisoning. It may have been a “rogue element” in Russia – or it could have been the work of another intelligence agency setting Russia up. There’s nothing wrong from a journalistic point of view of doing some reportage and arguing for one interpretation of the facts. But we don’t see this in the British press. We see these attempts to spin narratives – narratives which are fed to them by the State Department / MI6 + Downing Street – which they do by being selective with the facts, adding narrative glosses and relying exclusively on the views of Anti-Russia “think-tanks” and dissidents. And this rush to spin the narrative when any reasonable jury is still out should give us pause for consideration.

Notes

1. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/sep/05/putin-signed-decree-on-freelance-spies-days-before-skripal-claims

Skirpal – which came first, the ‘training manual’ or the door-knob?

The British government case that Russia was responsible for the poisoning by “Novichok” of ex Russian spy Sergey Skripal and his daughter initially relied on the argument that Russia had the “means, the intent and the motive” to do it and thus must have done it. The public was also told that the substance had been identified as coming from Russia – something which they subsequently had to retract. Subsequently it emerged that Porton Down had not in fact identified the sample they had as coming from Russia.

The government case fell apart. Also – most people can see through the argument that Russia had the means and motive. Yes; they have the means and one can ascribe a motive to them. But many others might have a motive as well. Not everyone who has a means and a possible motive to commit a crime is guilty of that crime. A simple piece of “fake logic”. Following the collapse of their case the government tried to shore it up with a series of placed stories in the press. One of these is that Julia Skripal (Sergey Skripal’s daughter) was under surveillance by Russian intelligence. Of course she was! She is the daughter of one of their major traitors of recent times – and was in touch with her father. Julia Skripal was no doubt being monitored by the British as well. Maybe there was even a hand-over when she arrived on a plane from Moscow? At any event that she was under surveillance by Moscow means zero as to whether or not Russia had a hand in the poisoning (by BZ and/or a nerve agent) in Salisbury of her and her father. Another attempt to fabricate a story out of thin air. [1]

(The fact that the British government is producing all these pieces of ‘evidence’ which any rational analysis can see do not support the claims being made on the basis of them itself shows that something very odd is going on).

The only piece of ‘evidence’ left is the claim that British intelligence has in their possession a training manual from Russia – dated to Russia not the USSR – which specifically discusses carrying out assassinations by smearing a nerve agent of the “Novichok” type on a door-handle – where the nerve agent was allegedly found in Salisbury. It is likely that British intelligence do indeed have some kind of a document which somehow can be construed as a “training manual” and which can somehow be said to be dated from post 1991. It could be anything e.g. a discussion paper of some kind. British intelligence won’t be too scrupulous about the truth.

At any event the question at the heart of this matter is – which came first; the “training manual” or the ‘Novichok’ on the door handle? To spell it out: if you wanted to commit a crime and frame Russia and if you had inside knowledge about this “training manual” and that it mentioned door-knobs – where would you put your (very pure) sample of ‘Novichok’?

See Craig Murry’s post about the British government D-Notice suppressing the key piece of information in this case.

Notes

1. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/pa/article-5617783/Denying-Moscow-spy-attack-shows-blindness-reality-says-Boris-Johnson.html

 

 

 

Bombing Syria was good business

In the recent aggression against Syria Britain used Storm Shadow missiles.

BAE is one of the producers of Storm Shadows.

What has the illegal UK aggression done for BAE’s share price?

On 13th April – when the bombing took place – it was 594 GBX. Today (17th) it is 601.40 – and climbing.

The idea that these obvious rewards do not create a driver for war is an example of the wilful naivety which the corporate and political “elites” in the “free world” cloak themselves in.