The international scandal around the poisoning of a former colonel of Russia’s GRU Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia is gaining momentum. State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin considers that the responsibility for the assassination of Skripal and other citizens of the Russian Federation rests with the United Kingdom and British Prime Minister Theresa May is trying to divert suspicion from her country.
Vyacheslav Volodin noticed that as soon as Russian citizens tried to go back to native land, “they became involved in accidents”. According to State Duma Speaker, Russia not only has nothing to do with these accidents, but, analyzing this situation, by definition is in no way interested in such developments. Volodin suggested that the London’s accusations could be considered within the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE.
Previously, commenting on Theresa May’s rhetoric, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called what was happening in the British parliament a “circus show” saying that London had launched one more information and political campaign based on provocation. Zakharova called on the British authorities to publish the findings of Litvinenko, Berezovsky, Perepilichny investigations and of investigations of many other cases of those who had “mysteriously died on British soil”.
According to Rethinking Russia Director and political expert Alexander Konkov, we are dealing with an information incitement aimed at stirring up Western anti-Russian hysteria and, in general, with whipping up a certain British story in the context of this anti-Russian policy:
– What is happening is building an information and political foundation in order not to keep terms with President Putin after his re-election, not to restore relations.
Talking about the content of the accusations, they have no evidence base. The words of Theresa May herself that “highly likely” Russia might have done something, all this modal wording emphasizes exclusively opportunistic, groundless character of the accusations. No facts. Assumptions are passed off as the ultimate truth.
Perhaps, Theresa May is also trying to decide the domestic policy issues that the Conservative Party is now dealing with. Nowadays, the United Kingdom needs a pillar, a trigger for mobilization, integration and yet another chance to emphasize its identity. And a foreign enemy could not have come at a better time. It is a good chance to unite nation against a foreign enemy, to perform as a leader in a war against fake threats that overshadow real challenges that are facing the United Kingdom because of Brexit.
Russia should be ready for different scenarios. At the same time, London’s attempts to up the ante to the highest possible level should not provoke response aggression of the Russian society. We should react adequately, composedly and consistently. I fact, this is what Vladimir Putin said suggesting that the United Kingdom should, for a start, consider its internal problems.
It seems to me that there is no sense in engaging in a meaningless war of words until real reasons for Russia’s involvement in the discussion emerge.
Political expert Pavel Svyatenkov calls attention to the threat of using Article 5 of NATO’s collective defense treaty obliging its member countries to react jointly to aggression against one of them:
– It is a doubtful development. The point at the issue is that somebody attacked NATO’s member countries (and “attacked” should be taken literally: with arms in hands).
Suspicion that Russia is responsible for the poisoning of a former spy does not mean that Russia attacked the United Kingdom. London may involve NATO institutions, but whether its allies want to enter in a war against Russia is an open question. I suppose that other Western governments will confine themselves to rhetoric. London’s aim is to make the conflict between Russia and the West worse, drive a wedge between Russia and Europe, Russia and the United States. Everyone understands this.
I think that Theresa May’s benefit is that she gets an opportunity to show that she is a strong leader. But this demonstration is unlikely to lead to domestic policy changes. The main thing that May slipped on last year is the decision to dismiss the House of Commons; resounding victory of the Conservative Party in all issues was expected. As a result, the Tories showed even worse result in comparison to 2015: they did not gain absolute majority in the House of Commons.
Theresa May’s weakness is determined by this result rather than by her country’s relations with Russia. Besides, there is Brexit that is being realized by the British political elite. Concerning this issue, there is a consensus. But still the costs are high. May may fall a victim – withdraw the country from the EU and then go away as Boris Johnson or another politician will become Prime Minister.
Difficult domestic policy situation is, on the one hand, the result of the Brexit process, and, on the other, the result of Theresa May’s domestic policy failures. If she had managed to get a resounding victory ascribed to the Tories last year, she would not have faced such problems.
Under current conditions, resignation is still on her horizon. And there is a reason why this does not happen: no one wants to become Prime Minister. A person who will withdraw the country from the EU, on the one hand, will etch their name into history, but on the other, will be likely to end their political career immediately.