Rostislav Ishchenko: “The Case of Skripal” – the First Conflict of the New World

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard

19:53:39
28/03/2018

ukraina.ru

When the provocation with Skripal was being prepared by the intelligence agencies of ours “friends and partners”, they didn’t yet know the contents of the message of the President of Russia to the Federal Assembly from March 1st, 2018…

Then they weren’t in time to stop the already-spinning flywheel of the provocation or, most likely, didn’t consider it to be necessary. In such cases military figures, diplomats, and politicians are far from immediately understanding that the situation changed radically. Moreover, even by understanding that the world is no longer the same, they can establish the scale and exact essence of the happened changes only in an empirical way.

In the end, what did the British and Americans have to lose? If the provocation is successful and the new Russian-European conflict with new sanctions and the rupture of economic ties is being inflated, then globalists will have partially compensated for the defeat of the US in the Middle East, strengthen their positions in Europe (in conditions of a confrontation with Russia it forcedly finds itself being the partner of Britain and the US), and improve their situation in American politics.

If the provocation doesn’t receive fully-fledged European support, then it is possible to, at least, assess the situation and to try to develop a strategy of combatting Russia that corresponds to the new reality.

Europe’s error

However, it would appear that “partners” were mistaken. Of course, they will gain experience and knowledge provided by the second option (unsuccessful provocation). But it can appear that the price for knowledge will be too high. Real political expenses and the falling of prestige will considerably exceed the effect from the gained knowledge.

Because while you haven’t yet entered into a conflict, your weaknesses are still unknown, and opponents are inclined to overestimate your force. If you initiated a conflict and lost, then you are obliged to pay the price for this, and not only the external political price, but also the internal one.

So, on March 1st Vladimir Putin reported that Russia became invulnerable to the attack of any State or group of States. Moreover, Moscow is able to cause unacceptable damage to any opponent, even without resorting to nuclear weapons. Roughly speaking, Russia gained the ability by means of conventional high-precision arms to strike American troops, as well as administrative, political, and industrial infrastructure a from safe distance. Approximately in the same way the US struck Yugoslavia and Iraq. This means that any other army of NATO, when compared to the Russian one, is like Armed Forces from the Stone Age.

On March 4th the provocation with Skripal started to be unleashed.

Between March 12th and 16th several statements were made by the Russian military and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about a provocation using chemical weapons against Syria being prepared. The most rigid of them was the statement of the chief of the General Staff of Russia’s Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov, during which he promised that should the US use cruise missiles to strike Damascus, Russia will strike back not only on the US’ weapons, but also on their carriers, i.e., on the ships and jets of the US.

The US could either swallow this statement and cancel the blow, having realised that before them a red line is drawn, or to risk it. They swallowed. The chemical provocation didn’t happen. From this point on, none of their threats mean anything for any country if the threatened State falls within the scope of interests of Russia.

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Split in the EU concerning the Russian question

At the same time, incidentally or deliberately, the EU leaked the prepared statement of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the European Union, with condemnation of Syria and Russia in connection with the not-taken-place chemical attack. Despite the stories that there is a mess in the Chancellery of the EU and that such kinds of documents are being published regularly, nobody gave one example of such a publication. Therefore, there are the grounds to consider that the leak was especially organised and authorised by if not the European Union leaders, then at least forces that are no less influential.

Since the US cancelled the chemical attack in Syria, “the draft that was incidentally published” didn’t become a statement of the EU, but the publication contributed to the provocation’s failure.

The subsequent succession of events with the position of the EU in “Skripal’s case” allows to assume that via this leak the interested forces in the EU signaled to Russia that, despite the rigid statements of leading politicians, the European Union is far from being consolidated on the Russian question, and that the most rigid versions of resolutions will never be successfully implemented. In principle this was already known — every year supporters and opponents of the anti-Russian sanctions longly argue about toughening or cancelling them, and then agree on a compromise option — to keep the existing ones and not to pay attention to their universal violation by the European companies.

But this time the situation went much further than it was possible to imagine. On March 22nd at the EU summit in Brussels the question about toughening the anti-Russian economic sanctions had to become key, but it didn’t. On the eve of the summit the British Minister of Foreign Affairs Boris Johnson stated that the government of Her Majesty won’t insist on economic sanctions.

This was already an unconditional compromise. In principle, it isn’t difficult for Europe to pronounce a couple of words about concern and to even expel two-three Russian diplomats (who can be quietly returned back in a few weeks). But by the end of the summit, all five states were ready for such measures. In five days, after the end of the Brussels meeting, Donald Tusk made a definitive conclusion. Only 14 EU countries from 28 agreed to opt to such palliative measures as expelling two-three Russian diplomats. The European Union split into two – concerning a fundamental issue. For the first time it openly split concerning the relationship with Russia. For the first time even formal (measures that don’t influence economic cooperation) were rejected by half of the EU.

London goes from being the accuser to the accused

As a reminder, it’s not some Estonia or Poland, but a whole Great Britain that appealed for European support. Of course, it is leaving the EU, but it doesn’t leave Europe. From the point of view of the unity of the West, allied relations with Britain (not as a member of the EU) is more important than the collective support of all East European members. The US, by the way, also didn’t show a special eagerness to support London. They expelled 60 Russian diplomats and closed a consulate, but Washington hasn’t yet announced any real financial-economic measures.

Yet a few months ago such an outcome of the scandal would’ve caused joy. It would be an undoubted victory for Russia. After all, it is precisely for the sake of toughening economic confrontation between the West and Russia that the provocation with Skripal was started.

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But today the situation changed. For Moscow a “victory on points” isn’t enough, it demands an explanation from Britain concerning the poisoning of Russian citizens on its territory and the admission of competent authorities of the Russian Federation for an investigation (a similar demand was made by Austria to Serbia in the case of the murder of Archduke Ferdinand). It also offers a reminder of other badly investigated cases where oppositional Russians died in Britain. The Russian opposition in England starts bringing benefits to the Motherland posthumously. Slowly but surely London turns from the accuser into the accused.

Besides this, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Maria Zakharova promised London a surprise in “Skripal’s case” at a briefing next Thursday. After the surprise for the British and Americans that was staged by the Director of the Foreign Ministry Department for Non-Proliferation and Arms Control Ermakov during a briefing on March 21st, this sounds threatening. If they will be publicly told off every week on Smolenskaya Square like naughty school students, then soon the whole world will mock the Anglo-Saxons, who only yesterday were menacing.

I.e., instead of strengthening their position or making a neutral decision, London and Washington were compelled to defend themselves. For both countries this means the further complication of an already unstable internal political situation. In the US Trumpists and anti-Trumpists – each according to their own interests – try to use the obviously failed chemical provocation that sharply worsened the position of Washington simultaneously in both Syria and Europe. In Britain May’s government, already coming under attack by both the parliamentary and inner-party opposition, risks early resignation.

London can find a way out only by presenting incontestable proof of Russia’s guilt – allies don’t want to believe just “gentlemen’s word”. But such proof doesn’t exist, and it is extremely difficult to fabricate them in the present conditions. The split in the EU is obvious, and the States that declared their position will look at everything that Britain will present under a microscope.

Time passes and the investigation conducted by British police moves ahead together with it. Sooner or later Scotland Yard will have to report about the results, and not in front of a summit of politicians, but in front of the British court. British law is precedential. If in court, on the basis of May’s assumptions, it will be possible to accuse Russia, then later on the same basis it will be possible to bring charges to any citizen of the British crown, including May (quirky British lawyers will take care of this). I.e., an unlawful decision made by the court in this case will destroy the entire legal system of the United Kingdom. This, in turn, will touch the serious interests of such a number of reputable families that it will be simpler to change 20 governments than to opt for such an adventure.

Conclusions

What wheat was separated from the chaff?

Firstly, it wasn’t succeeded to land a strike powerful blow on the economic cooperation between Russia and the EU. The most important thing is that the projects of streams [“North” and “South” – ed] aren’t frozen, and the time left before their full-scale launch is practically nothing.

Secondly, the humiliating answers of Russia to the Anglo-American invectives demanding a rigid reaction from Washington and London, which would confirm their exclusive situation at the table of ranks, showed that the Anglo-Saxons aren’t capable of such a reaction neither together nor individually.

Thirdly, the beginning of Russia’s diplomatic counterattack took Washington and London unawares. They couldn’t think up anything except the standard expulsion of diplomats. They won’t expel all of them, because this will mean the actual severance of diplomatic relations, while mirror or half-mirrored measures will inevitably follow (the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is skilful at thinking things up).

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It is clear already now that Britain (the US too, but first of all Britain, as the initiator of the scandal) needs to look for a way out of this with minimum damage. However, the attempt to immediately take a tone that is too rigid and categorical, which provoked an adequate answer from Russia, drove the government of Her Majesty into a corner. Now any softening of position will mean the losing of face — they will be obliged to recognise that the government misled parliament and European partners (the US also won’t fail to say that they were deceived), accusing Russia without the sufficient grounds. This is a shameful resignation.

But there is no space to continue to inflate it either. Russia laughs in Britain’s face, the European Union is split, and there were already not so many Russian diplomats left in the US and Britain — soon there won’t be anyone left to expel. And then what? It won’t be possible to issue more threats due to being afraid themselves.

I.e., in any case the only exit for London is to replace May’s government, having dumped everything on her insufficient competence.

And it is here that the biggest trouble is buried. The matter is that the alignment of forces in British politics is such that should May’s office be dismissed and the political weight of supporters of Euro-divorce will increase according to the rigid scenario (people in Britain aren’t happy at all that May agreed to pay Brussels tens of billions of euros of compensation). In turn the EU also doesn’t intend to back down and to let Britain keep free of charge all the economic preferences of a EU member without the political obligations of a EU member.

This is a fight over real money, over profits and sales markets, over economic efficiency. Here nobody will concede. The scandal promises to be noteworthy, long, and introduce such a split in the “European unity” that the situation on the eve of World War I will seem like a gracious picnic on the lawn between bosom friends.

Moreover, for the first time in 100 years Russia can observe this scandal from the outside.

At the last moment there was also an amusing factor — “Punxsutawney Phil woke up”: Ukraine, which for a long time preferred to “not notice” “Skripal’s case”, couldn’t contain itself and, in accordance with its usual habit, decided to be more European than Europeans themselves. If 14 EU countries “in support of Britain” expelled from 1 to 4 Russian diplomats each, then Kiev expelled 13 at once — if not all, then the vast majority of those who remained on the territory of Ukraine.

In fact Poroshenko severs the last ties with Russia exactly at the time when Europe tries to restore them whenever possible.

And this is at a time when his internal political situation is extremely unstable, when the EU and the US practically distanced themselves from Ukrainian internal political problems, and Russia remained the only player trying to somehow preserve the remnants of stability and to not allow the situation to dive into utter chaos.

However, cutting the branch on which you sit is national Ukrainian entertainment. In this regard Europeans, including Theresa May, are pathetic imitators.

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