Rostislav Ishchenko: British Borgia

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


The government and media in London have a strange notion of the methods and traditions of the Russian special services. You be the judge.

In November, 2006, in the British capital the former Lieutenant-Colonel of the FSB Aleksandr Litvinenko dies after he, bizarrely, drank tea with polonium. In 1998 he and some of his colleagues stated at a press conference in Moscow that their leadership ordered them to kill Boris Berezovsky. In 2000, Litvinenko fled to Great Britain and was granted political asylum there.

Without going into the homeric details of this case, we will just note that according to Litvinenko’s statements, his leadership at the FSB since 1997 was giving him instructions to either kill some former officer of the special service or kidnap a certain businessman, and he didn’t carry it out – on the contrary, he warned the potential victims about the danger. At the beginning of 1998 the Department of Internal Security of the FSB led an investigation into Litvinenko’s abuse of office and systematic abuse of alcohol. And it is this employee – who didn’t fulfil a number of “delicate instructions” allegedly given to him and who was under investigation by his own Department of Internal Security – that was allegedly ordered to kill Boris Berezovsky. Of course, after all, there was nobody else to give this order to…

Litvinenko poisoned himself and died. London immediately suspected that he was killed by the FSB. Without having provided any proof, except suspicions, London expelled several Russian diplomats, froze relations with Russia, and the Prime Minister of Great Britain at the time Tony Blair – who was called a lapdog of Washington – even demanded from Russia to change the Constitution so that Britain could, at its first desire, bring any Russian to court on its own territory.

In March, 2013, Berezovsky is found hung at his own estate in Great Britain. Two months prior to his death he wrote a personal penitential letter to Vladimir Putin, and on the eve of his death he allegedly gave an interview to the Forbes magazine, during which he said that he reconsidered his views vis-a-vis the west and wants to return to Russia. The Brits didn’t doubt even for a minute that he had committed suicide.

In March, 2018, in London the former Colonel of the GRU Skripal – who worked for British intelligence, was exposed, served his prison term in Russia, and has been living quietly and imperceptibly in England for eight years – is poisoned with military-grade “Novichok” toxic agent – from a family of toxic agents of the same name that, allegedly, were once developed in the USSR. His daughter was affected together with him. Meanwhile doctors and the developer of this toxic agent who lives in America claim that if the poisoned will survive, they won’t return to normal life.

This time an investigation wasn’t even launched. The Prime Minister of Great Britain Theresa May immediately declared that Russia is to blame. She put forward an ultimatum to Moscow, and after Russia actually ignored it, having suggested to Britain to adhere to the norms of international law, London behaves according to the template of “Litvinenko’s case”: the expulsion of diplomats; the freezing of relations; the accusation that Russia used a weapon on British territory; and attempts to use this to try to involve NATO in an anti-Russian campaign, which were unsuccessful. The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation discreetly dropped the topic, having promised London that if it has the desire, then it will be able to hold consultations in accordance with Article 4 of the Washington treaty (i.e., to talk about nothing). But if, on the second day after the beginning of the scandal the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson – who unambiguously supported London – hadn’t been dismissed, then its unknown how the Alliance would behave under the joint pressure of London and Washington along with the guaranteed hysterical jumping around of at least half of the Eastern European limtrophes.

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May’s ultimatum hadn’t yet expired when in London the body of a colleague of Berezovsky, Nikolay Glushkov, had been found, apparently with signs of strangulation. Russia hasn’t yet been accused of being responsible for this death, although enough time has passed. In the case of Skripal two days were enough for the British Prime Minister to fully “investigate” the case. But there is a hitch with Glushkov. Maybe he “strangled himself”, like Berezovsky did.

What immediately strikes the eye about all of this? The British aren’t in a hurry to blame the FSB/GRU for the strangulations. They probably consider that Russia doesn’t possess the know-how to strangle its enemies. But, according to London, all Russian special services (it is the FSB that was accused in the case of Litvinenko; in the case of Skripal it is the GRU) use only substances that can be quietly referred to as weapons of mass destruction for the elimination of their former, needed-by-nobody employees. It’s impossible to use them selectively, since they pose a threat to the population of the megalopolis and, the most important thing, they have a clear “Russian trace”.

Polonium is produced by an extremely limited number of States. Russia is one of the main producers. However, the US also doesn’t have a lack of polonium. “Novichuk” was developed in the USSR, and the fact that the laboratory was in Uzbekistan and at the beginning of the 1990’s was transported to the US, and also that the developer of this military grade toxic agent lives in the same place is just nothing – trifles. After all, everybody knows to what extent Americans are decent people, there is no need to even ask them, it is clear in advance that they wouldn’t harm even a fly, let alone a human…

So, the British establishment and media consider that the Russian special services (moreover – all of them) are involved solely in the elimination of double agents who are washed-up and needed by nobody in either Russia or, more importantly, the West. Moreover, they try to do this using methods that are as noticeable as possible and dangerous to all around, using substances that can be referred to as weapons of mass destruction. These substances must correspond to two other parameters: to obligatory leave traces that can’t be confused with something else (concerning polonium, the trace had to remain for weeks), and also to have a clear Russian connection. It means that nobody doubts that it is precisely the “long hand of Moscow” that reached those who “chose freedom”.

This is somehow strange. In Russia veterans of the NKVD, MGB, and KGB who worked in those days when the USSR really did eliminate its enemies abroad – and some of them were kidnapped directly from Paris – are still living. Back then they were killed in various ways: some were killed with an ice axe, some were gifted explosive candies, some were splashed in the face with poison, and others were shot. The most important thing, is that nobody could prove that this was the work of the Soviet special services. But here, there isn’t any continuity. So many traces, and such reasons for a scandal!

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If to reject irony, the Brits perfectly understand all the costs of their provocations. They know that we know that it is they who stage all these murders with the help of WMDs. Moreover, after “the case of Litvinenko” they aren’t under illusions concerning the effectiveness of Russia under pressure. They can introduce additional restrictions of a diplomatic, economic, or political nature even without murders: within the framework of the sanctions policy of the West connected to the Ukrainian crisis. They also have no doubts in relation to the possibility of military pressure. It’s not for nothing that the Americans were shown new types of Russian weapons and promised that their destroyers would be sunk if they strike Damascus or other places in Syria where there are Russian military personnel or civilians. There is also no need to prove in such a complicated way the “guilt” of Russia in the chemical attacks allegedly carried out by Damascus against the opposition. It is rather enough to state this “guilt”, and if someone doesn’t want to believe the “gentlemen’s word”, then it is possible to bring a couple of former Soviet shells from Libya.

Moreover, they undermine the basis of the Russian opposition’s existence. Earlier, every “fighter against the regime” in Russia knew that if they have real problems of a criminal nature, then they can quietly leave for London, live there on a pension, and write books about “Kremlin crimes, since ancient times up to modern day”. Now the cleverest persons start to understand that in order to live in London there will be a lifelong need to be useful for British intelligence agencies, and this isn’t possible for everyone, or it is your lifeless corpse that will be useful. Moreover, judging by the manner in which the murders are being carried out, you will die a long and painful death, and if you survive, you will become a vegetable.

And finally, there isn’t a need to be a rocket scientist to ask the question: how is it possible that Russian agents can come to and fro the British capital with polonium and “Novichok”? Where are the British intelligence agencies looking? How did they cross the border? If Russians can do it, then tomorrow some jihadist will easily synthesise sarin in any quantity in an apartment somewhere on Oxford Street, and the intelligence agencies and police of the Kingdom will learn about it only when London is shrouded in a gas cloud.

Sooner or later, the population will start asking these questions. Especially since the British press keep bleating in the ears of the population about the dangers of the substances used by “artful Russians”.

I.e., there aren’t any advantages, but the costs are huge, and they become more and more over time. The pragmatic Brits didn’t really go crazy, did they? Of course they didn’t. London has been moving with Washington in the same bridle for too long. It even started its exit from the EU when the US decided to sacrifice Europe (economically) for the sake of their own survival. In order to not sink together with the EU, Britain decided to leave the doomed ship. But here it became clear that the EU rather successfully resists the US, not without hope glances at Russia, and more and more attentively studies Russia’s proposals for cooperation. But at the same time the officially not formed, but no less effectively acting Russian-Chinese and Russian-Iranian-Syrian unions, together with Turkey – which comes closer and closer to them – force out America from the Middle East, North Africa, Eurasia in general, and even from the western part of the Pacific Ocean.

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The prospects are gloomy. It is impossible to retreat – the economy [of the UK – ed] will collapse. It is impossible to be at war – Russian military development and the general condition of the Armed Forces of Russia, China, and Iran guarantee a defeat for any aggressor, especially since there is disorder and instability in NATO. And it is unknown who will be on whose side when the moment of truth arrives. There is a need to somehow wriggle out and conduct negotiations. But there aren’t any arguments to defend their demands.

So that’s why arguments are being created. On this occasion London, by the very level of its statements, approached that moment where a single step forward would mean that war has to be declared. Actually Britain repeated the Ukrainian trick but in a more civilised form, having accused Russia of aggression, but without having launched military operations.

This is a very dangerous situation. At the same time, the Brits know that politicians in Russia are responsible and don’t rush into a confrontation at any cost. The Brits (together with the Americans) expect to receive essential geopolitical concessions in exchange for the removal of tension artificially created by them.

Well, there is no harm in wanting. But the adventurous policy of Washington and the adjoining to it London in the last two decades already led to the US losing its hegemon status, the EU ceasing to perceive them as an ally, and, on top of all this, the European Union entering into a cold economic war with Britain. A similar confrontation with the US isn’t far off. Trump already announced his protectionist program, which completely destroys the acting system of global trade. If he doesn’t back down (and he won’t) then the EU won’t have any options. Trade and economic interests will literally put it in one boat with Russia and China, even if for the sake of this it will be necessary to “lose” two-three excessively emotional limitrophes on the way.

Hysteria was never an effective means to an end in politics. And London is screaming itself into fits. Decencies are tossed aside, norms and values aren’t observed, the once prim and self-possessed British politicians behave like young and petty criminal street yobs. I am afraid that such a condition isn’t treatable any more. It’s not that delirium tremens arrived – it’s that it refuses to leave, because there is no exit.

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