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Honest question, does anyone have a link to any legitimate studies about the perception of the Skripal poisoning amongst the public?
Do the majority of people in the UK/W. Europe share the opinion of the likes of BBC and such in regards to what happened and who is responsible?
Is it possible to ascertain what people really believe?
I have my doubts, aside from long-held convictions, most people seem rather volatile in their believes.
What I can say from following the story very closely is that there was a lot of skepticism both in France and in Germany until the UK government mobilized its diplomatic resources to the full a couple of weeks after the incidence. Gernot Erler, Russian expert of the German government said that the government had been "under pressure" by a Nato ally. Most Nato members agreed to expel 1 to 4 Russian diplomats according to their size. Non-Nato member Austria was among the few that didn't comply. Once Nato governments had taken the decision to back the UK, government members and the MSM kept on repeating the UK line like a mantra. In Germany, skeptical voices came mainly from non-cabinet politicians of all parties.
In the public, most people probably wanted to believe their respective governments and the MSM, but I think there is a lot of doubt below the surface. A couple of weeks ago the German public broadcaster ARD reported that a parliamentary commission had come to the conclusion that the German government still didn't get any evidence from the British and that the German intelligence service BND had not found any intelligence implicating Russia. I noticed that in the comments sections, more than 90% of the respondents doubted the British story. Obviously, media comments sections are not representative, but the ARD is a public broadcaster and not a conspiracy site.
I think the Skripal story has the potential to damage the credibility of Westminster both at home and abroad.
What do you personally believe happened? Who would benefit from this scenario?
My first thought was that anti-Putin dissidents/oligarchs tried to "trigger a red" line for getting Western support in their fight against Putin, perhaps with the help of the Chechen mafia. Following the collapse of the SU, knowledge and actual samples of Novichok got into the hands of criminals and Western intelligence agencies because of Soviet scientists who, without the largess of the Soviet area, were desperate to make money. There was a case of a Russian banker who was poisoned with one type of Novichok, even though that was probably different from the one used in the UK
I wouldn't totally exclude the possibility that the UK intelligence service was involved or in the know. If so, we'll never find out. Anyways, irrespective of whether they knew, the British government use the poisoning to form an anti-Russian alliance, probably in view of Syria, but perhaps also in view of the destruction of chemical weapons under the OPCW. The Russians destroyed their stockpiles last year, but the Americans are dragging their feet. In view of that, they may be trying to show that the Russians still have secret chemical weapons they didn't destroy.
Nothing is impossible, but I think it is highly unlikely that the Russians are responsible because the Russians have no motive for
building and anti-Russian alliance,
triggering an anti-Russian media campaign ahead of the elections and the world cup,
assassinating an unimportant ex-spy who has been exchanged (that would make future spy exchanges and recruiting of new spies difficult)
disclosing that they have secret weapons which they have always denied,
sending an actual sample of the toxin to a place near the UK's chemical weapons lab where its exact composition including eventual impurities can be analyzed,
using a very expensive secret weapon that is associate with Russia for an assassination that could be reliably carried out with any kitchen knife without leaving a trace.
The British story is so full of inconsistencies that it's hard to list them all. By careful wording they are trying to spread the idea that the toxin originally developed in Russia must have been made by Russia and that nobody else could have made it, which is an obvious lie. There are numerous labs were it could have been made, including at Porton Down which is in the middle between Salisbury and Amesbury.
This is clearly not a "chemical weapon" produced by the ton for use on the battle field. It is a sample of a toxin prepared in a lab with great care. That's why the OPCW said it was of "great purity". That means it was made in a lab and it also means its origin cannot be determined by eventual impurities, even if there were a sample for comparison.
There is one conspiracy theory which sounds intriguing. Skripal could well have been a source for the Steel Dossier about Trump. There are some indications that he wanted to return to Russia for family reasons. Passing info about the Steel Dossier to the Russians could have been a way of getting back into their favor. That would have been embarrassing for the British government in their relation with Trump.
That is the thing that's confused me most about this whole affair; neither side has a compelling enough motivation for this. Russia was already on the ropes with the Crimea sanctions, and despite getting vocal from support from allies and the token expulsion of some diplomats, Britain never really followed up on the skripal incident in any way that would indicate an initial intention. Likewise, Russia had nothing to gain from murdering a defector in such a high profile manner, aside from perhaps sending a message. This is why I would suggest an as yet unknown third party as the culprit; the other suspects simply have inadequate motivations.
Thanks for your input, but I specifically asked about studies, and not somebody's personal opinion on the matter.
One thing that seems off to me is that the Russians failed to actually kill the couple with the poison. As far as I am aware they are still alive. Is that really the best the FSB can do?
i always thought that there are so many simpler ways to kill a person than to fiddle with nerve poison...thats way i find the whole thing dubious.
Obviously there are, but it does not send the same message. They could have staged a "car accident", but being poisoned on foreign soil, where you think you're safe, and dying an extremely painful and horrible death, this is a much stronger statement towards everyone thinking about crossing Russia and Putin.
even so...there other ways to inflict a horrible and long death.
Presidents do not deal with that kind of staff...agencies do. Used and exposed former spy does not have much value. We everyday people do not know much about the grey world of spying and counter spying and all this debating and outrage is based on, what we read in the media.
Is there any precedent for Putin doing something like this on foreign soil at a great geopolitical risk or is this just speculation?
I feel like 'they're doing it to send a message' can be used to ascribe an action to any actor without the need for any actual geopolitical reason.
What about Litvinenko?
I know some people say that never ascribe to malice what can be explained by incompetence, but the presence of incompetence doesn't necessarily eliminate the possibility of malice.
Besides, poisoning someone in public with a nerve agent is harder than you would think.
FSB cannot do much because that special service deals with internal security matters including border guarding.
Mass media have turned this abbreviation into a meme.
Can you summarize the evidence linking Russia to the poisonings, for those unaware?
The police seem to think that this current poisoning was an accident, somehow the two people manage to be exposed to the nerve agent used in the original attack (maybe some residue was left somewhere and they managed to come into contact with it?).
SS: Metropolitan Police says the couple in Amesbury who are in a critical condition were exposed to the same Novichok nerve agent which contaminated Sergei and Yulia Skripal
"An urgent investigation is under way to discover how a British couple have been left critically ill by the nerve agent novichok, the same military grade poison that nearly killed a former Russian spy and his daughter four months ago."
I love these accurate non-descriptions already in the first paragraph of the piece. "Military-grade" poison. Whatever that means.
The geopolitical question is what happens to the UK’s standing if what we’re seeing is just a smuggling operation / contamination from the nearby chemical weapons plant? The UK has guaranteed other countries that Russia did it and those countries expelled Russian diplomats based on that guarantee. That guarantee is looking a bit shaky now.
Edit: or maybe, not a military nerve agent at all but just some random industrial chemical with a similar toxic profile... super embarrassing.
I feel the chances of a smuggling operation nearly killing a Soviet defector by accident are slim at best. Why would skripal be the victim if it was in truth unrelated to Russia?
Unless he was involved in the smuggling. Presumably he’s got some marketable skills when it comes to moving illicit things in/out of the country.
And so the best way to hide this was to poison him with the highly illicit product being smuggled? Unless you're proposing he accidentally contaminated himself without noticing, which would beggar the question, how would you explain the British government's reaction? If this was something they wanted to hide, they have done the worst possible job of it. I suspect this was an action by a third party seeking to stoke tensions between the West and Russia. Perhaps elements within the FSB trying to send a message to Putin, who has in recent years worked to sideline them.
I guess nothing will happen. As always, every country activates their propaganda machine if something happens, so regardless of what really happened, public opinion won't really change I think.
As for this case, this is really dubious. We first had a case where allegedly Russians killed a "traitor" from like 15 years ago (so he leaked all possible information already) with an exclusive soviet chemical weapon and didn't even kill him instead of using common assassination methods. And now they are poisoning people randomly?
This really looks like big bullshit to me. In the past years, Russian secret services assassinated several high members of Caucasus islamisic insurgencies in other countries, and this looked not at all like the Skripal case.
exclusive soviet chemical weapon
The thing is, this chemical is not even exclusive.
Yes, but still everyone points to Russia, despite that even the German BND acknowledged that it has produced it.
Can you link some of the assassinations you're talking about?
It won't be easy because most articles I read about it were in Russian and it was some time ago. And many of these cases weren't such famous and not all are confirmed to be done by Russian agents (some of them get killed in internal conflicts).
But I think this is the most known case of an confirmed assassination in the modern Russia: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assassination_of_Zelimkhan_Yandarbiyev
Assassination of Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev
On February 13, 2004, Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev was assassinated when a bomb ripped through his SUV in the Qatari capital, Doha. Yandarbiyev was seriously wounded and died in hospital. Two of his bodyguards were killed as well, and his 12-year-old son Daud was seriously injured.
It was initially unclear who was responsible for the blast, but suspicion fell on SVR or GRU, denying any involvement, or internal feuding among the Chechen rebel leadership.