The Russian president said at a plenary session of the EEF in Vladivostok that Moscow had identified the two people suspected by London of poisoning ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury. Putin also said that the suspects are civilians and encouraged them to talk to the media.
Sputnik discussed the latest revelations made byÂ Vladimir Putin withÂ Joe Quinn, a political commentator.
Sputnik: What do you make ofÂ latest revelations made byÂ Putin?
Joe Quinn: I donâ€™t think thatâ€™s a big deal. Itâ€™s kind ofÂ to be expected that the Russian government would announce that these people are no one special. They havenâ€™t gone asÂ far asÂ to say what they are doing there, butÂ Putin has suggested they should speak upÂ themselves and say why they were inÂ the UK. But itâ€™s just entirely plausible that they could just be two Russian civilians who were inÂ Sailsbury onÂ that day.
There probably were many different nationalities inÂ Sailsbury onÂ that day and overÂ that weekend; so the fact that the British police and intelligent services were able toÂ identify two Russians inÂ Salisbury or inÂ the area ofÂ Salisbury, inÂ London, aroundÂ that weekend proves nothing.
As far asÂ how the media is responding toÂ it, I was just checking outÂ the Sun newspaper â€“ Iâ€™m not sure if that qualifies asÂ the British media â€“ and they said that Putin had stuck upÂ two fingers toÂ the British government byÂ making this announcement. Itâ€™s a bit farcing atÂ this point really â€¦ and itâ€™s a four- or five-month saga and nothing makes any sense whatsoever.Yet, the British government and the British media continue toÂ run withÂ it because itâ€™s part ofÂ an ongoing anti-Russian defamation campaign thatâ€™s part ofÂ a larger geopolitical war that the West inÂ general is fighting againstÂ Russia.
It has toÂ be seen inÂ that context and dirty tricks and fabrications and false allegations are, obviously, part ofÂ that geopolitical war.
Sputnik: Can you talk aboutÂ the motives that you perceive forÂ both sides ofÂ the story? The UK is saying that Russia is coming inÂ and using chemical weapons toÂ poison regular British citizens; and thatâ€™s horrible, thatâ€™s a war crime or something ofÂ that nature. Whereas the Russians are saying that they have nothing toÂ do withÂ this and that this had just been set up. Why would the UK want toÂ specifically show that Russia is using chemical weapons onÂ their territory?
Joe Quinn: The idea ofÂ chemical weapons has become this kind ofÂ meme inÂ the media and aroundÂ the world basically asÂ the worst thing that you can possibly do.Itâ€™s portrayed inÂ that way and is used toÂ demonize heads ofÂ foreign governments byÂ Western nations. Itâ€™s not surprising that they would try toÂ put those two together and demonize Russia inÂ the same way. Average people and the public know that chemical weapons are bad or they have been told that evil dictators used chemical weapons againstÂ their own people; and now you have the suggestion that the Russian government, obviously not onÂ a large scale, butÂ on a small scale, has been using chemical weapons againstÂ the British public.
How horrifying forÂ the British public! Itâ€™s designed toÂ provoke an emotional response fromÂ the British public and toÂ turn them againstÂ Russia. As I have already said, it is part ofÂ an ongoing long-term mostly information war againstÂ Russia byÂ Western governments. And itâ€™s also part ofÂ a broader geopolitical war inÂ terms ofÂ the West attempting toÂ hold onÂ to its global hegemony and its control againstÂ the kind ofÂ rise ofÂ Russia and also China.
But, obviously, Russia is the major problem here I suppose because ofÂ its proximity toÂ Europe and its ties withÂ Europe. The Americans are very concerned aboutÂ Russia and they want toÂ do everything they possibly can toÂ turn world public perception or opinion againstÂ Russia. And they can achieve a lot inÂ that way; butÂ the fact that they are doing that toÂ such an extent is evidence that they canâ€™t really do much else fromÂ a military perspective.In times gone byÂ the US would have dealt withÂ a country likeÂ Russia byÂ simply overthrowing the government or maybe invading it. But they canâ€™t do that againstÂ Russia so they have toÂ go full onÂ with their propaganda war.
Sputnik: Thereâ€™s one more thing that bothers me still and that is the sloppiness withÂ which this was carried out. Some media is saying that they were sloppy and they did it specially because they donâ€™t care and they want toÂ send a message toÂ other traitors or ex-spies â€“ â€˜watch out, weâ€™re going toÂ ruin our relationship withÂ the UK and other Western countriesâ€™ â€“ butÂ the other spies who are living inÂ Western countries will be afraid now.
Joe Quinn: Itâ€™s nonsense. It might fly forÂ somebody who doesnâ€™t think very deeply aboutÂ things or who reads too many tabloids. But, inÂ terms ofÂ the intelligence community, the one thing that sends a message toÂ members ofÂ intelligence communities is that when one ofÂ their number dies unexpectedly inÂ an accident, thatâ€™s what sends a message.Any spy worth his salt looks atÂ this situation and probably laughs and says that this was an operation carried outÂ by the Russian government. They know that the Russian government and intelligence services donâ€™t operate inÂ this way; they donâ€™t expose toÂ the entire world that they are the ones who attacked innocent civilians withÂ chemical weapons inÂ the UK.
Thatâ€™s not how it works. Obviously, itâ€™s shooting yourself inÂ the foot; does Russia really enjoy negative attention so much that it would expose itself deliberately byÂ this sloppy way ofÂ carrying outÂ this operation? Thatâ€™s ridiculous.