Wednesday, 14 March 2018

The British press on today's news


A round-up from the russophobic British press. Strangely enough, this was not top of the headlines on the Daily Mail!

As the colonial sycophants they are it was all about America and Tillerson.
Russian spy attack: Theresa May plans for ‘economic war’ with Vladimir Putin and his allies
Sources told the Independent the Russian president could not be allowed to get away with ‘gangerism’

13 March, 2018

Theresa May is drawing up plans for an “economic war” with Vladimir Putin and his allies after Moscow refused to explain how a deadly Russian nerve agent came to be used in a rural British city.

The Independent understands the ground is already being prepared for economic measures such as asset freezes and seizures, alongside visa bans against Russian individuals.

Ms May is also understood to be considering expelling diplomats and pushing for joint international action with allies.

The Prime Minister is set to meet her National Security Council on Wednesday to finalise her approach which is then likely be announced to the House of Commons in the afternoon.

Action came a step closer after the Russian Foreign Minister said his country would not cooperate with the British investigation into the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury on 4 March.

But Britain’s allies gave early support to Ms May’s push, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel calling for unified action and US President Donald Trump saying there must be “consequences” for those responsible.

It came during another dramatic day on which:

On Monday Ms May delivered an ultimatum to Russia, that it would have to explain how Novichok, a Russian-made nerve agent came to be used in Salisbury.

She warned of “extensive measures” if a full account was not given by midnight on Tuesday, something Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov declined to do without being handed a sample of the nerve agent identified by the British investigation.

A Government minister told The Independent: “What happens will be an economic war, these will be economic measures.

Russia’s economy is only half that of the UK, a lot of it concentrated in a few people’s hands. Well, we’ll do our bit to make it smaller if they want to carry on like this.

That doesn’t give us any pleasure at all, but we need the nations of Europe to behave within the rule of law and not like gangsters. The message has to economic, political and diplomatic.”

A key option open to the Government are powers under the Criminal Finances Act which could see Russian owned assets and property – worth hundreds of millions of pounds in London – thrust under the spotlight.

If individuals who have ties to Mr Putin or are linked to the Salisbury attack cannot show that legitimate means have been used to purchase assets, then they could be seized, as could banked money which is of a suspicious origin.

After former Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko was killed with radioactive poison in 2006, the UK also expelled diplomats, imposed visa restrictions and froze assets of two suspects, but Ms May has indicated she wants to go further this time.

The minister told The Independent the total package of measures being pursued would be “greater than the sum of its parts”.

They went on: “The words that the Prime Minister used were that this constituted an ‘unlawful use of force’, which is important because it does justify proportionate retaliatory action.

Theresa May is drawing up plans for an “economic war” with Vladimir Putin and his allies after Moscow refused to explain how a deadly Russian nerve agent came to be used in a rural British city.

The Independent understands the ground is already being prepared for economic measures such as asset freezes and seizures, alongside visa bans against Russian individuals.

Ms May is also understood to be considering expelling diplomats and pushing for joint international action with allies.

The Prime Minister is set to meet her National Security Council on Wednesday to finalise her approach which is then likely be announced to the House of Commons in the afternoon.

Action came a step closer after the Russian Foreign Minister said his country would not cooperate with the British investigation into the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury on 4 March.

But Britain’s allies gave early support to Ms May’s push, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel calling for unified action and US President Donald Trump saying there must be “consequences” for those responsible.

It came during another dramatic day on which:
  • The Russian scientist who created the nerve agent warned the effect could be felt for years
  • Terror police investigate the unexplained death of a Putin critic
  • Rex Tillerson was sacked as US Secretary of State
On Monday Ms May delivered an ultimatum to Russia, that it would have to explain how Novichok, a Russian-made nerve agent came to be used in Salisbury.

Salisbury city centre visibly quieter days after Russian spy attack
She warned of “extensive measures” if a full account was not given by midnight on Tuesday, something Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov declined to do without being handed a sample of the nerve agent identified by the British investigation.

A Government minister told The Independent: “What happens will be an economic war, these will be economic measures.

Russia’s economy is only half that of the UK, a lot of it concentrated in a few people’s hands. Well, we’ll do our bit to make smaller if they want to carry on like this
---Government minister

Russia’s economy is only half that of the UK, a lot of it concentrated in a few people’s hands. Well, we’ll do our bit to make it smaller if they want to carry on like this.

That doesn’t give us any pleasure at all, but we need the nations of Europe to behave within the rule of law and not like gangsters. The message has to economic, political and diplomatic.”

A key option open to the Government are powers under the Criminal Finances Act which could see Russian owned assets and property – worth hundreds of millions of pounds in London – thrust under the spotlight.

Tory MP Tom Tugendhat: England fans at World Cup in Russia may be targeted as a result of reprisals for Skripal

If individuals who have ties to Mr Putin or are linked to the Salisbury attack cannot show that legitimate means have been used to purchase assets, then they could be seized, as could banked money which is of a suspicious origin.


After former Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko was killed with radioactive poison in 2006, the UK also expelled diplomats, imposed visa restrictions and froze assets of two suspects, but Ms May has indicated she wants to go further this time.

The minister told The Independent the total package of measures being pursued would be “greater than the sum of its parts”.

They went on: “The words that the Prime Minister used were that this constituted an ‘unlawful use of force’, which is important because it does justify proportionate retaliatory action.


Nothing would be complete without Luke Harding weighing in with his particular brand of russophobia

Spy poisoning: why Putin may have engineered gruesome calling card

Insiders say all trails lead back to Moscow, suggesting a deliberate act to incite row with UK


The response from the Kremlin has been uncompromising. The foreign ministry described Theresa May’s accusation against Moscow as a “circus show”. Its boss Sergei Lavrov said there was no proof the poison used against Sergei Skripal came from Russia. And the embassy in London promised an “equal and opposite reaction” to any UK measures.

Beneath this bluster, however, is cool calculation. Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in Salisbury with a Moscow-made military nerve agent, developed during the 1970s and 1980s during the cold war. Whoever wanted to murder him might have used a subtler weapon. Instead, his assassins picked novichok. How it was deployed remains unclear.

One former employee of the Russian special services said nerve agents were used only if the goal was to draw attention. “This is a very dirty method. There’s a risk of contaminating other people, which creates additional difficulties,” he told the Kommersant newspaper, adding: “There are far more delicate methods that professionals use.”


In other words, novichok was a gruesome calling card. As those who organised the hit must have known, the trail goes directly back to Moscow. The incident even took place down the road from Porton Down, the government’s military research base, which swiftly tested and identified the toxin.


All of which means Vladimir Putin and his FSB spy agency have probably sought to engineer a confrontation with the UK. Why now?


There are many theories. The most obvious answer is Sunday’s presidential election. True, Putin is guaranteed to win. He has scarcely bothered campaigning. But the Kremlin remains worried about turnout, amid widespread voter apathy and calls from Alexei Navalny, Russia’s most prominent opposition politician, to boycott the vote. The authorities want to the poll to look authentic, even if it isn’t.


Putin and Trump.
Facebook Twitter Pinterest
On Tuesday, Donald Trump broke his silence about Russia’s probable role in the poisoning of Sergei Skripal. Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP
Over the next few days, state TV channels will pump out this message: Moscow is again the victim of a western conspiracy. Russia under siege is a favourite Kremlin theme. Conflicts with the west can bear some fruit: Putin has maintained the bump in his nominal popularity rating after his annexation of Crimea, despite western condemnation and sanctions. The wave of patriotism that followed also split the Russian opposition.


So a row with London can do Putin no harm, especially among voters who share his uncompromising nationalist worldview and his smouldering sense of victimhood.

One former senior Foreign Office adviser said it was a mistake to assume that Skripal’s spy work for MI6 triggered the decision to poison him in Salisbury. Skripal was merely the “instrument”. The real target was the UK, he said. “I don’t think it was about Skripal. It was a geo-political intervention.”

The adviser added: “Moscow’s goal is to demonstrate the UK’s weakness and isolation and to drive a wedge between us and other countries. The Kremlin understands how to make these sorts of interventions at just below the level that will trigger a serious collective reaction against them.”


If May fails to react adequately, she would appear weak. If she tries to fight back against Russia, she would discover the limits of collective solidarity, the adviser suggested.

There are other theories. Grigol Chkhartishvili, best known for writing detective novels under the pen name Boris Akunin, suggested Putin was betting on a British retaliation that would drive wealthy and prominent Russians out of London. The community of Russian émigrés (and families of wealthy businessmen and officials) was “one of the weak points of the regime”, he wrote, and forcing them out would be “useful and beneficial” for Putin.

There has been some outrage from EU capitals. Belgium’s former premier Guy Verhofstadt called for a common European response and said EU leaders should discuss the incident at a summit next week. But given Brexit, Europe’s response is likely to be limited when it comes to practical retaliation.

Until Tuesday evening, Donald Trump had remained silent over the Kremlin’s probable role. He has since told Theresa May in a phone call that his support is conditional on the facts supporting her case. Downing Street said Trump had agreed that “the Russian government must provide unambiguous answers as to how this nerve agent came to be used”.


Until then, only one senior member of his administration had acknowledged that Russia could be responsible: Rex Tillerson. On Tuesday Trump fired Tillerson as secretary of state, underlining that May is likely to receive little or no help from the US, once the UK’s closest ally.

The Skripal attack also appears to have been calculated for its domestic impact. It sends a chilling message to anyone from inside Russia’s spy agencies and bureaucracy thinking of cooperating with western intelligence. The message: that the state can mete out punishment at its own pleasure and in the most barbaric way. Oh, and your family might suffer too.


Moscow’s covert operation to support Trump during the 2016 US election was a large enterprise. It involved career intelligence officers, cyber-criminals and professional trolls. Only Putin and a few top officials know its full scope. But a wider group of individuals understand parts.

Anyone thinking of cooperating with Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating collusion, will think twice.

If you don't remember who Luke Harding is watch this


No comments:

Post a Comment