The Russia Thing Gets More WTF

In the UK we have an attempted murder of a former Russian agent via some sort of nerve poison weapon https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/mar/13/russia-demands-nerve-agent-samples-uk-deadline-spy-poisoning

That action has placed Russia and the UK into a diplomatic crisis. Assuming the Russian government was responsible for the attack, it was extraordinarily blatant. At the same time, it was blatant enough to still be deniable and yet also so extreme as for make it seem almost implausible that a government would do that.

On Monday the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the attack clearly came from Russia https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/mar/13/nerve-agent-attack-clearly-came-from-russia-says-us-rex-tillerson

Today Rex Tillerson has been sacked by Donald Trump https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/mar/13/rex-tillerson-fired-donald-trump

Now Tillerson was not great – he was after all appointed by Trump – and his departure has been expected for awhile but this timing looks particularly bad. Added to this Trump has not implemented the sanctions on Russia that Congress has told him to.

So seriously what the flip is going on? It’s hard not to be paranoid in such circumstances.

Is the whole poisoning thing not what it seems and is actually a giant distraction cooked by Theresa May to draw attention from how messed up Brexit is? That seems unlikely but there are layers of cynical incompetence at play here.

Is Putin just literally trolling the UK now with attempted murder? The attack seems to be way over the top and yet didn’t actually kill the targets. The use of this nerve agent has led to a massive clean-up operation, making the attempted hit look more like a terrorist attack. Is it a ‘false flag’ or some group other than the Russian government or is it Putin demonstrating that he can get away with murder because the US won’t react?

All we can do is watch at the moment.

 

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25 thoughts on “The Russia Thing Gets More WTF”

  1. Well I guess you can watch, given that you’re a safe distance away (unless, of course, you’re on a side-trip to Aberdeen?)
    Some of us are closer than we’d like…

    [This is a joke. And no, I don’t think there’s any Brexit conspiracy here; they aren’t that competent. As with Litvinenko a decade ago, and a number of other cases in the intervening years, istm to be more likely to be a hit on a non-significant target to warn others to stay in line.]

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t think its a distraction but then Theresa May is inherently untrustworthy but…MORE trustworthy than Donald Trump and less evil than Vlad Putin!

      I don’t know Salisbury well but I’ve been there a few times. Such a weird setting for such events – like a Midsommer Murders episode but with John Le Carre as the guest writer.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s a fabulous description of the events of Salisbury. And now I imagine DCI Barnaby and his assistant du jour going up against Russian assassins.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I do not enjoy this cosplay of the 20th c inter-war years. Turns out it is not that fun to live through a new historical zeitgeist.

    This is all really effin’ dangerous.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Bolton wrote an op ed in the Wall Street Journal last month laying out the legal case for a pre-emptive strike against North Korea. I’m sad and scared for all the people who are going to be hurt. Chronicling of too many deaths foretold.

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  3. Trump is preforming exactly how his FSB handlers want him to perform. Putin is getting a lot of use out of his asset in the White House.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. To make it even more wtf and add yet another connection to Trump, I read somewhere that the attacked spy had been somehow involved with the infamous Steele dossier.

    Has this claim been debunked? Or is it common knowledge? I have not been following closely.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was from a reasonably reliable source – The Telegraph – and afaik hasn’t been debunked. It was a fairly speculative story though, and the link may not mean very much – it makes sense for a firm dealing with intelligence about Russia to have links to a ex-Russian intelligence officer now living handily close in the UK.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Plus it was apparently a Russian-manufactured nerve agent that was used for the poisoning, which takes it from ‘extraordinarily blatant’ to ‘Ha ha! Look what we did!’

    Liked by 2 people

  6. OTOH Tillerson’s Russia connections have been used in the past to point up the level of connections to Russia in the White House. Right now I’m slow to ascribe to conspiracy that which can be explained by Trump being a chaotic incompetent reactive idiot.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Liked by 3 people

  8. It’s been suggested that Tillerson was actually fired before he made this statement, so it was a matter of ‘I’m fired? OK, that means I an say anything I like! Russia is guilty!’.

    (And as David Brain says, there have been cases between Litvinenko and now, which haven’t had so much publicity – which means the real puzzle may be why May is making such a thing of this now.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I heard that too, but it turns out that he’d been ramping up the attacks on Russia for a couple of weeks. Also, he wasn’t really notified he was fired; the Chief of Staff talked to him on the phone and gave him some “hints” which he apparently failed to pick up on. So when he said it took him by surprise, I think that’s the truth.

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  9. Cannot wait until That Dude decides “In the UK we have…” proves you live in Great Britain and are therefore (DERP), or that it shows you are deliberately trying to mislead people about where you really live or both. Probably both.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. My thoughts on this are pretty random, really….

    – At the end of the day, the message of all this is probably going to be “I am Vladimir Putin and I can do what the hell I like, ha ha ha.”
    – If Theresa May wanted to stage a hit to distract people from Brexit, she’d be better off going for a target like, say, Nigel Farage.
    – If Theresa May tried to poison Farage and got a retired Russian spy instead, it would be par for the course as far as May’s competence goes.
    – I try to see the good in people, I honestly do, but I can’t envisage any way in which assassinating Farage is *not* a good idea.
    – Tillerson has been on his way out ever since he made his frank and accurate assessment of the President’s intellectual capacity.
    – There is no special meaning to Tillerson’s departure at this time. I imagine Trump is just trying to keep his core team’s IQ safely under room temperature, and Melania has been buggering around with the air conditioning.
    – I like to imagine that Melania’s English is even worse than people think, and she actually has no idea what is going on, and is desperate to find the State Department’s one Slovenian interpreter and ask questions like “why has the man with small hands taken me to this hick town with no proper shops? And when do I get to divorce him and take all his money?”
    – Sanctions by Britain against Russia won’t hurt very much unless we can get our allies to join in. This demonstrates how much of an advantage it is to belong to a group of closely allied nations such as e.g. the EU.
    – Putin is an ex-KGB hard man who thinks nothing of throwing exotic poisons around. Trump is an amoral billionaire shouting messages of hate and fear. Even Theresa May has spoke out against the Human Rights Act, and also has a henchman who intimidates dissenters with his pet tarantula. When are we going to come out and *say* that these people are Bond villains? And where is James Bond, anyway? Now that we really need him, where is James Bond?… Oh, right. Clap clinic, as per usual.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Well, maybe now that one of his old Russian frenemies and his daughter (we know that Bond likes the ladies) have been poisoned, maybe he’d going to come out.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I wanna see Bond and Action!Queen parachute in a la the Olympic opening ceremony video. 007 can shoot to kill and Liz can whack ’em with her purse while they trip over corgis.

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  11. As soon as the police announced it was a nerve agent that had been used but declined to name it I was thinking Novichok. even though I couldn’t remember where I’d heard the name. Cold war fiction no doubt. For reference this nasty weapon is thought to be up to 8-12x more toxic than VX depending on the specific agent, Novichock being a range of toxins developed in the 70s-80s. Unusually some can be delivered as fine powders rather than the more common viscous liquids. the Russians have never admitted to them, but in the same nod and wink style as they’re doing now.

    That makes it such an obviously Russian act that a couple of big guys in fur hats might as well have pulled up in a ZiL limo, shot him with AK-47s, put a bears head on a spike covered it in vodka and set fire to it before pulling away singing Госуда́рственный гимн Росси́йской Федера́ции.

    What I’m less sure about is if this was calculated to be so obvious. I’m beginning to suspect this was a fsck up, that Skripal was meant to die in his flat and it to be written off as a heart attack (more plausible than it sounds with a nerve agent) This may be why people are eying up other defectors that have died of ‘natural causes.’ Something went wrong with the timing, Skripal and his daughter didn’t get exposed to enough and were found and treated too quickly. This may also be due to reading too much cold war spy fiction.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Also the conspiracy theorists are having a field day, as you’d expect.

      The two best/worst I’ve seen so far are:

      The UK did it to draw attention away from Brexit (really, just because it was near Portan Down? I can’t even…)

      It was an Israeli false flag operation to damage Russia’s Syrian campaign. (Head-desk)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Telegraph is now reporting that Intelligence agencies are convinced the agent was planted in Skirpal’s daughter’s luggage, by contaminating clothing or cosmetics or a gift for her father.

        This would be consistent with the reports that the police sergeant that was also hospitalised was exposed at the Skrpal’s home, and looks like their survival (for now) was a fluke with them having left before being sufficiently exposed.

        If they’d been found dead in their home then there may have been more inclination on the British side to keep it hushed up for a quiet life rather than being forced to publicly “do something.”

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