It’s bad

I had been putting off writing anything about the poisoning of former GRU colonel Sergei Skripal in England until such time as more evidence became available, and because, to be quite honest, the whole affair is deeply depressing. The announcement that the substance used to poison Skripal was the nerve agent Novichok points the finger of blame firmly at the Russian state. After all, where else would those responsible have gotten such a substance? It isn’t unreasonable to consider agents of the Russian state to be prime suspects in this case, although clearly a lot more research needs to be done to identify who exactly poisoned Skripal and then trace their movements. Regardless, the United Kingdom will no doubt respond in a fairly forceful manner, while what little remains of Russia’s international reputation has been torn to shreds.

If indeed the attack on Skripal was ordered by somebody in authority in Russia, then it’s indicative of quite stunning stupidity on that person’s behalf, which has done enormous harm to Russian interests. It’s also indicative of gross incompetence, given not only that the attack failed to kill Skripal and was delivered in such a manner as to endanger innocent bystanders, but also that the chosen weapon was one which so clearly points to Russian guilt (and also, not unimportantly, constitutes a serious breach of the Chemical Weapons Convention). If those responsible wanted to be found out and wanted to do maximum harm to their country, they couldn’t have done a better job.

All this will, of course, provide lots of grounds for doubters to claim that the Russians couldn’t possibly be so stupid, and that the affair must therefore be some sort of false flag operation. I doubt it. Given a choice between the cock-up and the conspiracy theory, I nearly always go for the former. Alas, experience shows that people in government sometimes really are that stupid, and I don’t see why Russians should be any exception.

Whatever the truth, this isn’t going to end well. For those of us who have been trying to persuade people to work to improve Russian-Western relations, this is like a kick in the teeth. We can point out all the distortions in reporting about Russia till we’re blue in the face, but in the aftermath of something like this nobody is going to pay the slightest bit of attention. It’s bad.

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36 thoughts on “It’s bad”

  1. The developer of this nerve agent lives in London.

    The factory used to produce it is in Uzbekistan, and I believe is still full of American inspectors.

    According to Wikipedia ( https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%9D%D0%BE%D0%B2%D0%B8%D1%87%D0%BE%D0%BA_(%D1%85%D0%B8%D0%BC%D0%B8%D1%87%D0%B5%D1%81%D0%BA%D0%BE%D0%B5_%D0%BE%D1%80%D1%83%D0%B6%D0%B8%D0%B5) ) the precursors can be produced at any factory producing fertilizers.

    However, all traces point to Russia.

    It is not impossible ( I am not, in general, believe in rationality of secret services, rogue or otherwise ), but I believe that to come to conclusion that Russian state is behind this attempt one at least needs to eliminate a lot of other possibilities.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “After all, where else would those responsible have gotten such a substance?”

    USA! USA! USA!

    – Exhibit A: Vil Mirzayanov

    – Exhibit B: 1999: US-Uzbekistan Chemical Arms Cleanup Deal

    “Earlier this year, the Pentagon informed Congress that it intends to spend up to $6 million under its Cooperative Threat Reduction program to demilitarize the so-called Chemical Research Institute, in Nukus, Uzbekistan. Soviet defectors and American officials say the Nukus plant was the major research and testing site for a new class of secret, highly lethal chemical weapons called ”Novichok,” which in Russian means ”new guy.’”

    “Regardless, the United Kingdom will no doubt respond in a fairly forceful manner”

    Soooooo… Duke Phillip won’t come to the opening of the FC2018? Oh, blimey!

    “…what little remains of Russia’s international reputation has been torn to shreds”

    “Whatever the truth, this isn’t going to end well.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ‘Soooooo… Duke Phillip won’t come to the opening of the FC2018? Oh, blimey!’

      I’m really hoping that England don’t pull out of the World Cup, as I have tickets for me and my boys for England v. Panama and England v. Belgium, and have already spent a lot of money on flights etc.

      Fingers crossed.

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      1. “I’m really hoping that England don’t pull out of the World Cup”

        By Jingo, the ol’ Blighty MUST totally boycott us, Mordorian barbarians! That would show the entire world that the UK is a firm adherent to the Universal Liberal and Democratic Values and is not afraid to miss (together with the Ukraine) the Championship of 2018 and, quite possible, FC2022 as well.

        That’s what it means to be faithful to your concise choice.

        Like Brexit.

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  3. I am not a fan of conspiracy theories, but this would be such an astoundingly stupid thing for Russia to do, that I struggle to believe it.
    When you factor in how close this incident was to the Army’s Porton Down chemical research facility (and location of a now famous incident of the Army testing chemical weapons on it’s own troops). Coincidence? Perhaps. Never mentioned in news reports either.
    Who stands to benefit from this incident? – manufactured consent of course. Headline on a UK newspaper today “From Russia with Hate” next to a huge picture of the head of Putin. Typical journalistic hyperbole? or more manufacturing of consent.
    You’re right though, it’s not going to end well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Given how ‘astoundingly stupid’ it is, it is indeed very hard to believe. But the cynicism required for someone to carry out a ‘false flag’ of this type is equally incredible. For now, we must follow the evidence. Hopefully, the police will be able to identify who administered the nerve agent, and then follow them back to their place of origin. No doubt they are scouring the CCTV cameras, checking hotels etc in the area, examining patterns of cell phone use in Salisbury, ploughing through the records of entrance points into the UK, etc. It’s a long shot, but perhaps they’ll turn up something.

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      1. “But the cynicism required for someone to carry out a ‘false flag’ of this type is equally incredible. “

        What amount (either in metric or Imperial system – your pick!) is required to lie for years on and on and then wreck Iraq?

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Russia was confirmed to have destroyed its chemical weapons stocks in compliance with the CWC, one of the few signatories to do so. Any FSU country could still have CW stocks. Do you think Ukrainian neo-nazis would be above such a false flag?

        I’m not saying Russia did not do it. It just seems highly ulikely given the lack of motive and the presence of multiple anti-motives.

        In short, I strongly disagree that this points to Russia. I think just the opposite.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. According to “b” at Moon of Alabama, who is German and I believe to be a former intelligence officer of that country, the agent used is an “improvement” over the deadly VX nerve gas because it is even more lethal and can be prepared from chemicals readily available in the civilian sector. Therefore the origin of it is very difficult, if not impossible, to definitively trace.
    http://www.moonofalabama.org/2018/03/theresa-mays-45-minutes-claim.html

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A couple of notes of caution.
    First, the original nerve agent was, as I understand, developed in a Russian institute, then tested south-east of Saratov and in Uzbekistan. So there is a Russian link, and the original whistleblower is still alive, 83, living in the US, who exposed that nerve agent which was, at the time, hidden from the chemical warfare treaty. We don’t know where it was stockpiled, if there was any, but a possible stockpile was most likely in Uzbekistan.
    Second, no matter how this agent was administered, prior to administering it would have been a most dangerous time also for the perp himself. Either because he was combining the two ingredients, or because he had to handle the final product in either form.
    Third, I would assume that there are traces of the two elements that can be pinpointed. I am, however, not entirely sure that it is this substance. We cannot be sure unless either an independent, or a Russian party investigate.
    Fourth, the speed with which Boris Johnston came out and accused the Russians was unprofessional to say the least. At the time, the most they could know was a nerve agent and the identity of the victims. Now, they may have narrowed down the type of nerve agent, but they obviously have still made leaps – they have not excluded local perps, Uzbekistan, Uzbek-related criminals, or even people related to the American inspectors in Uzbekistan.
    Reversing the burden of proof seems to be the way to go when it comes to either Litvinenko or now this case. Sad case for the UK showcasing its justice system.

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  6. I agree with David Johnson (including in that I am also not sure who pays attention!).

    As it happens, this past week I have been immersed in reading Thomas Merton’s Cold War Letters and his Peace in the Post-Christian era. In the latter he wrote:

    ” … the weapon of prayer is not directed against other men, but against the evil forces which divide men into warring camps.”

    When Merton wrote that some 50 years ago, he was concerned about what then seemed the likely mutual annihilation of the US and the USSR.

    The ‘evil’ he was referring to was not, in the first instance, a conspiracy of persons — it was more about the logic of power itself.

    What John Mearsheimer calls the ‘tragedy of great power politics,’ the philosopher Simone Weil (writing in the early 1940s) described as the tragedy of power as such. Men only ever can search for increase of their power, they can never simply command it once and for all, they can never rest — so long,at any rate, as they remain in thrall to its logic. Power itself is the ruler, and men are made into its objects. If an answer is to be found at all, it has to be somewhere else — closer, I think, to what Merton was talking about.

    I grant you that all this must seem pretty far afield from the topic at hand. Figured it might be time to share what keeps me from despair.

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  7. “But the cynicism required for someone to carry out a ‘false flag’ of this type is equally incredible.”

    I guess you’re talking about ‘false flag’ specifically with the intent to frame Russia. That’s a possibility; a lot of pissed off Novyi Russkiys in the UK. But suppose you are planning to murder a former double spy for unrelated reasons (money?). Surely this would be the most natural way to throw the police off the scent?

    Or maybe I watch too many movies. Indeed, I do. But then your scenario is also quite far-fetched. If some GRU boss decided to settle a score, wouldn’t he, most likely, just hire some reputable hitman from Glasgow, Liverpool, or Belfast?

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    1. ” If some GRU boss decided to settle a score, wouldn’t he, most likely, just hire some reputable hitman from Glasgow, Liverpool, or Belfast?”

      Wait… a contract killer with the ties to Russia and/or former member of the security service with the added bonus of having contacts in the country, that just recently produced heaps of attack-poisons?

      I know just the man for the job!

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  8. This is likely the first post on Irrussianality with which I feel I need to express some disagreement.

    Assuming, as seems likely, this is indeed a nerve agent attack (of whatever type), this incident is a product of “conspiracy” any which way you slice it. Either it is a product of an “utterly idiotic” Russian conspiracy, or it is a product of a “cynical” anti-Russian conspiracy. There’s just no “non-conspiracy” option. That is, we don’t have an option here, between, on the one hand, an overly elaborate conspiracy or, on the other hand, a simple, straightforward act of (attempted) murder. It’s actually a choice between two different sorts of conspiracy.

    And in this case, applying Occam’s razor and/or basic probability principles, where we have a choice between (a) conspiracy or (b) conspiracy plus utter stupidity and incompetence, it is (b) that we would need to rule out as the less likely scenario (because it is more complex), not (a). Put somewhat differently: it’s hard to believe that we have actors here who are sophisticated enough to procure or produce, transport and deploy this highly exotic means of murder, but are not sophisticated enough to realize that the entire plot has a very, very high chance of backfiring, i.e., that although these actors are otherwise highly sophisticated (in terms of planning, operating in secret, etc. etc.) they are nevertheless not intelligent enough to apply a basic risk/benefit analysis to their actions. It’s just mind-boggling.

    As for the level of “cynicism” required of a putative anti-Russian conspiracy, who knows: there’s plenty of stuff that this side has done that is a massive shock to the conscience (stuff like Gladio comes to mind, and even some of the stuff openly accessible in declassified CIA archives).

    So, despite the lemming-like momentum of the British media, all the hysteria and a clear rush to judgment, along with the official reversal of the onus of proof, throwing away any modicum of a presumption of innocence – and no effort being made by British authorities to even merely appear as if they are being careful and painstaking in their investigations – we are very, very far from having any idea who might be responsible.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Just to make things interesting there are reports of present day “connections” between Skripal, his M-16 “handler” when he was in Russia, “Pablo Miller” and Christopher Steele’s company Orbis. There are also reports that Steele was the desk agent agent when Skripal was an intelligence asset and would have received Miller’s reports of the information Skripal was providing.

    Forward to the present and there are allegations that “Pablo Miller” is now associated with Christopher Steele and Steele’s company, Orbis Business Intelligence. This is the company through which Steele produced the Trump dossier. There is also speculation that Skripal was one of the sources for this dossier.

    “While living in Salisbury, Skripal became friendly, according to a report in the UK newspaper the Daily Telegraph, with none other than the aforementioned Pablo Miller – whom the Telegraph declined to name but has since been identified on the web. Miller is now working with a British security consultancy named Orbis Business Intelligence. Again according to the Telegraph, Miller’s association with this company has now been removed from Miller’s LinkedIn profile.”

    “Orbis is the same private intelligence agency as that of Christopher Steele. It seems more than a mere coincidence that the same three men who had personal and professional links going back to the 1990s should have a continuing association at the same time as the Steele dossier was being compiled and later as the so-called Russiagate inquiry was imploding.” https://consortiumnews.com/2018/03/13/the-strange-case-of-the-russian-spy-poisoning/ see also https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2018/03/russian-to-judgement/ and http://www.moonofalabama.org/2018/03/theresa-mays-45-minutes-claim.html#more

    Liked by 1 person

  10. As of now we have no reasonable motive for the attack. We can speculate all day about a possible motive — disgruntled GRU boss, Skripal’s possible work on the Steele dossier, Ukrainian/Saudi/Israeli/Turkish attempt to undermine Russia in Syria, MI6 trying to cover up some unknown embarrassment — but it is all just speculation. Until we have a motive, all the Brits have to go on is Russophobia: a chemical weapon attack is evil, Russia is evil, therefore Russia!

    It took the British government almost a decade to investigate Litvinenko’s death. Why the rush for Skripal, when no one has even died (yet)?

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I am not following this blog but someone very dear to me has been reading Mr Robinson’s writing and was very upset by this article. I feel compelled to respond.

    “Given a choice between the cock-up and the conspiracy theory, I nearly always go for the former” – here this is a mannered way to admit that you are not brave enough to follow where the evidence leads.

    Let’s consider your claim in detail.

    When you suggest that the proposition that the attack on Skripal was a set up to frame Russia is a conspiracy theory, you are not saying that it is wrong. What you are saying is that it is manifestly wrong, that no reasonable man would even consider it.

    Is that so? Is it so manifestly wrong, so demonstratively foolish to suggest that UK / US could be behind the attack? Your whole argument hangs on this claim.

    May I remind you how US / UK invaded the Middle East. What were their premises? What about the Nayirah testimony? The Kiev shootings in January 2014? The 45 minutes claim by Tony Bair? The support of the ‘legitimate opposition’ in Syria?

    Are you ready to stand by the claim that the UK / US are so beyond reproach that it is absolutely implausible to suggest that they did try to frame the country with which they are at war?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oleg, please do read what I have written in the past, and you see that I have been repeatedly critical of UK/US policy and am far from believing that they are ‘beyond reproach’. But you say that one should follow the evidence, and there is none to suggest that the UK/US was involved in this.

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      1. Our starting point should be that Russians did not do it.

        Let’s try to analyse this case the same way historians analyse other historical events. Let’s pretend we live in, say, 2500 and know what we know and see where the evidence leads.

        US/UK and Russia are at war. By analysing their moves we can make a pretty good picture of the skill and abilities of the opponents.

        The Kremlin is playing masterfully – especially if you keep in mind the limited resources it has – and is winning. Then something happens that is a sign of extraordinary foolishness of Russia. Does this fit the portrait? Wouldn’t it be reasonable to conclude – as an historian would do – that it was not Russia who did it? Isn’t it how we analyse past events?

        I am ready to argue, therefore, that an honest historian would be compelled to determine that it wasn’t Russia unless there is evidence – well beyond any doubt – to the contrary.

        Do we have such evidence?

        The UK’s claim is based on two arguments:

        First. The poison was produced in Russia.
        Second. Russians did this before.

        The first argument has been debunked already. In short, Russia joined the “Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction” and destroyed its stock of the nerve agent long ago. This was confirmed by international observers. It has also been pointed out that the formula is not a secret and anyone could make it.

        As far as “they did it before” argument, it comes down to the Litvinenko case. I don’t want to go this rabbit hole. But the material point here is that this case never went to trial and the evidence has never been cross-examined.

        In fact, the “they did it before” argument works against Britain. I, and I am sure you too, can easily produce a list of actions Russia supposedly did against its own interest each time it was about to achieve a victory. It would be easy to show that “they did it before” argument points on the allies rather than on Russia.

        In short we don’t know who did it. Yet, the fact of the matter is that the UK does not have evidence to incriminate Russia.

        On a personal note I should add that I felt physically ill – I actually had to spend several days in bed – when I saw how British media were trying to bury the facts behind the Kiev shootings. I am only hoping this country is going to shake off the group of parasites running it into troubles like a dog shakes off lice.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. “…follow the evidence, and there is none to suggest that the UK/US was involved in this.”

        I am in the same position as Oleg’s near and dear: someone who follows this blog and who was quite unpleasantly taken aback by this post.

        To me, the ‘evidence’ pointing to a ‘false-flag’ op in progress is 1) the speed with which blame was assigned — way sooner than a proper investigation could have delivered any clear answers; 2) the fact that the protocol outlined in the Chemical Weapons Convention (signed 1998 by both parties) for dealing with such an event was bypassed/ignored; and 3) how quickly the incident was used as an excuse to escalate the war against Russia.

        All should certainly wait for the police and chemists to do their forensics before jumping to conclusions. But, let’s be realistic. The politicians in the UK and US have jumped to the most belligerent of conclusions before the forensics were in. Suppose the investigation ultimately fails to confirm the narrative they’ve committed to with such noise and bombast? What then? I would not hold my breath waiting for them to climb down and offer an apology.

        You’re right about one thing, though: this isn’t going to end well.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. “But you say that one should follow the evidence, and there is none to suggest that the UK/US was involved in this.”

        But what you (you?) do, professor, is akin to suggesting, that EVERYON killed by the blades made from the Damask steel, had been killed by the orders of Bashar al-Assad…

        […]

        Crap, let’s not give the cray-cray pundits and politicos new ideas

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Answering your question:

        I merely pointed out the flaw in your logic. In order to destroy your argument all I need to do is to show that the implausibility of the suggestion that the western powers, either UK or US, were behind the attack does not elevate to the level of a conspiracy theory.

        I could also point out that possible explanations of what happened are not limited to either Russians or UK/US theories. Can we exclude the third party involvement, a Franz Ferdinand scenario? I don’t find it plausible but my views are not the point here.

        On personal note – sorry for that – may I ask you to be more responsible in the way you use the authority and trust you’ve got and do not substitute rational analysis with a melodramatic rant?

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Dear Mr Robinson,

    It doesn’t take much for you to actually condemn Russia for this.

    It’s sad that you are so quick to condemn on so little evidence, considering the climate we are in of rampant demonisation of Putin and Russophobia in general

    Russia was blamed within 24 hours,

    The chemical used – if what the British say is correct – originated in Uzbekistan during the Soviet Union

    The Americans and the Uzbeks have a treaty to clear this chemical

    Russia got rid of all its chemicals weapons – as per treaty agreement last year. It was certified and trumpeted in the media

    Paul – there is a campaign against Russia and this is part of it plain and simple.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Dear Mr Robinson,

    Please open you mind to the possibility that this is a false flag.

    I would like to draw your attention to the following.

    “The “novochok” group of nerve agents – a very loose term simply for a collection of new nerve agents the Soviet Union were developing fifty years ago.

    These nerve agents were developed in a facility in Uzbekistan.

    Vil Mirzayanov an Ex-Soviet scientist in charge of development of the “Novichok” group of agents was arrested and tried for treason in Russia in 1992.

    He sold formulas (and related technical documentation) of the “Novichok” group of agent and other secret chemical agents to “foreign intelligent services” , but was later released from prison and “relocated” to the US where he is currently living.

    This man has appeared on cue in the media in the UK. To say that it could only have been done by Moscow.

    Which is not true at all. He sold the formula

    I am not a lawyer but the case being made by the uk is full of holes. There is reasonable doubt.

    They are not even clear on how and where this chemical was administered.

    But the are it is “Highly likely” it was Russia?

    That for me is not good enough when there is high stakes involved ie war.

    I am very disappointed in what you have concluded from very little evidence.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. No one knows who actually ordered the attack. It’s quite possible it was a high ranking official in the Kremlin but I highly doubt it—especially at a time when the Kremlin is trying to pursue dialogue with the West (even though the West has no interest in doing so). It might end badly but Theresa May, in her speech in the British HoC, did leave herself an opening on two separate occasions:

    “I share the impatience of this House and the country at large to bring those responsible to justice […]. But as a nation that believes in justice and the rule of law, it is essential that we proceed in the right way – led not by speculation but by the evidence.”

    “[…] it is highly likely that Russia was responsible […]”

    I am not naïve; powerful forces in Britain will force her to respond harshly. Let us not forget who lives in Britain. Yes, the one and only Putin jihadist, Bill Browder––and I am sure he is making the rounds to privately lobby the necessary people in Britain to respond harshly. Also, Euronews interviewed one of Skripal’s former colleagues. He raised some interesting questions but it will be left unheard. Here is what he had to say: http://www.euronews.com/2018/03/13/-why-do-they-only-get-poisoned-and-perish-in-britain-

    In any case, in this bleak moment in history, I am reminded of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the greatest détentist of them all (the first American President to recognize the USSR in 1933). He had always aspired for the “Grand Coalition” (or whatever he called it) of America, Russia (USSR), and China, which would’ve certainly included Europe. If he had lived a little longer, I’m convinced that he would’ve made it a reality. Oh well….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. David Johnson,

      A rather relevant post has just appeared on the site of a ‘Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media’ recently set up by a group of British academics.

      It is co-authored by Paul McKeigue, who is Professor of Statistical Genetics and Genetic Epidemiology at Edinburgh University, and Piers Robinson, who is Professor of Politics, Society and Political Journalism’ at Sheffield University, and is entitled ‘Doubts about “Novichoks”.’

      (See http://syriapropagandamedia.org/working-papers .)

      The case for a presumption of Russian responsibility made by Theresa May in the Commons on 12 March hinges on the claim that ‘world-leading experts at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down have established that Skripal was poisoned with one of a ‘group of nerve agents known as Novichok,’ developed by Russia.

      Until recently the head of the detection laboratory at Porton Down was Dr Robin Black. As McKeigue and Robinson note, back in 2016 this ‘world-leading expert’ on chemical weapons – he really is that – published a chapter in a book on ‘Chemical Warfare Toxicology’ entitled ‘Development, Historical Use and Properties of Chemical Warfare Agents.’

      The link to this at the site of the Royal Society of Chemistry is at the end of the piece by McKeigue and Robinson – a free download if one registers – and the whole chapter is very well worth reading indeed.

      In relation to May’s claim, Black’s discussion of ‘Novichoks’ raises some rather fundamental questions:

      ‘In recent years, there has been much speculation that a fourth generation of nerve agents, ‘Novichoks’ (newcomer), was developed in Russia, beginning in the 1970s as part of the “Foliant” programme, with the aim of finding agents that would compromise defensive countermeasures. Information on these compounds has been sparse in the public domain, mostly originating from a dissident Russian military chemist, Vil Mirzayanov. No independent confirmation of the structures or the properties of such compounds has been published.’

      As McKeigue and Robinson also note, a similar scepticism was expressed in a March 2013 report by the Scientific Advisory Board on the OPCW – again, the link is in the ‘Working Group’ document:

      ‘[The SAB] emphasised that the definition of toxic chemicals in the Convention would cover all potential candidate chemicals that might be utilised as chemical weapons. Regarding new toxic chemicals not listed in the Annex on Chemicals but which may nevertheless pose a risk to the Convention, the SAB makes reference to “Novichoks”. The name “Novichok” is used in a publication of a former Soviet scientist who reported investigating a new class of nerve agents suitable for use as binary chemical weapons. The SAB states that it has insufficient information to comment on the existence or properties of “Novichoks”.’

      Of course, it is perfectly possible that, since Dr Black wrote, both Porton Down and the OPCW have received conclusive evidence vindicating the claims by Mirzayanov.

      But there is a long record of people in the West accepting, without critical examination, claims from ‘dissidents’ and ‘defectors’ from the former Soviet Union and now Russia.

      Until the problems raised by McKeigue and Robinson are cleared up, it really is premature to conduct any discussion of the Skripal poisoning on the basis of the assumption that a class of deadly chemical weapons called ‘Novichoks’ actually exists.

      Perhaps their piece merits reproduction in your invaluable newsletter.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you, David. Black’s phrase ‘No independent confirmation of the structures or the properties of such compounds has been published’ is fascinating. I notice that the New Scientist writes that, ‘no standard test exists for Novichoks’. Some more detail about how it was determined that this type of agent was used, and some independent verification is probably needed. https://www.newscientist.com/article/2163502-what-are-novichok-nerve-agents-and-did-russia-do-it/

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    1. Likewise. It seems even the sanest people can get disoriented in the atmosphere of pervasive anti-Russian hysteria. As for Russia’s reputation, I don’t think there had been anything at all left of it in the west anyway.

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  15. Both the UK and Russia are parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention. Russia has complied with its terms and destroyed its stock of chemical weapons. The CWC certified Russia’s compliance last fall. The US has yet to comply.

    Under the terms of the CWC, Russia is ENTITLED to receive a sample of the agent. This is what Russia has requested from the beginning. The UK has refused to comply. Also, under the terms of the CWC Russia has 10 days to reply. Why isn’t this investigation being handled in compliance with international law?

    I am still searching for a motive which would serve as a reason for Russia to do this to this man and his innocent daughter at this time. I haven’t found one and given the timing and all the negative publicity—this event was NOT in Russia’s interest.

    In addition to strange connections between Skripal and the Steele dossier—we also hear that the composition of this agent isn’t really “unique” to Russia. The main plant was in Uzbekistan and the US has been involved in removing and destroying this agent. Moreover, the “inventor” is in the US and has written a book where he revealed the formula which shows this agent can be constructed from readily available materials. Further, it is likely that batches of this agent can be found in other parts of the former Soviet Union, including Ukraine.
    In sum, why the rush to judgment when there are many other potential perpetrators who would actually have a motive to commit this atrocity and frame Russia?

    The UK has made a mess of this “investigation”. On every front and on every possible occasion we are being rushed into war with Russia. People had better wake up and demand that some sanity be restored before it’s too late.

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