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UK Politics: The Beast From The East

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-43377856

Quote

 

A former Russian spy and his daughter were poisoned by a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia, Theresa May has told MPs.

The PM said the government concluded it was "highly likely" Russia was responsible for the Salisbury attack.

Russia's ambassador had been asked to explain whether it was "direct action" by the state or due to it "losing control" of its nerve agent stock.

She said the UK must "stand ready to take much more extensive measures".

The chemical used in the attack, the PM said, has been identified as being part of a group of nerve agents known as "Novichok".

Mrs May said Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson had told the ambassador Moscow must provide "full and complete disclosure" of the Novichok programme to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons by the end of Tuesday.

She said the UK would then consider their response before deciding what action to take, but added: "Should there be no credible response, we will conclude that this action amounts to an unlawful use of force by the Russian state against the United Kingdom."

 

As was said by ljkeane in the US Politics thread, this is Article 5 type of language. Sad that Corbyn ruled out downgrading communications with the Russians, and that he then turned into a party political attack on ethnic Russians with British citizenship.

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Corbyn's reaction is exactly as stupid as you'd expect. Sigh.

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I'm glad we got a strong statement from the government, but I hope the action taken if Russia don't explain themselves is equally strong.

I find myself wondering if maybe Putin has some excuse lined up for this, terrorists or rogue agents or something. On the one hand, he might feel such a thing might make him look weak. On the other, it might give him an excuse to paint the West as unreasonable if they impose sanctions. 

Anyway, I do feel like one reason we are able to give a strong response is that unlike in the US, we still have something resembling an independent civil service, with expertise and a government that has a culture of actually listening to such advice. (Except in relation to Brexit, of course.)

The whole thing is seriously worrying. 

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The obvious thought that comes to mind is how this differs from Western nations targeting individuals within the borders of other countries by way of drone strikes?

Isn't it just killing someone you deem an enemy of your country by whatever means necessary? Or are only certain nations allowed to do that?

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Posted (edited)
16 hours ago, Shryke said:

Corbyn's reaction is exactly as stupid as you'd expect. Sigh.

Stupid how, exactly? Stupidly drawing attention to the fact that the Conservative Party is in the pocket of a hostile foreign power that threatens the national security of Britain and her allies (well, what's left of them...)?

 

Edited by Spockydog

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Posted (edited)
15 hours ago, Shryke said:

Corbyn's reaction is exactly as stupid as you'd expect. Sigh.

He's going to end up alienating his own party.

Edited by GAROVORKIN

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2 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

The obvious thought that comes to mind is how this differs from Western nations targeting individuals within the borders of other countries by way of drone strikes?

Isn't it just killing someone you deem an enemy of your country by whatever means necessary? Or are only certain nations allowed to do that?

Well, for one thing drone strikes aren't regarded as a WMD and aren't banned. You may want to argue that they should be. But Russia has here been using a weapon that Russia has signed up to conventions agreeing never to use, and has claimed not to have, and the use of which could be devastating. One innocent member of the UK emergency services is in hospital.

1 hour ago, Spockydog said:

Stupid how, exactly? Stupidly drawing attention to the fact that the Conservative Party is in the pocket of a hostile foreign power that threatens the national security of Britain and her allies (well, what's left of them...)?

FFS.

Well, for one thing calling for 'dialogue' with Russia (however 'robust') seems pretty stupid. It gives the impression that Mr Corbyn is looking for ways in which to excuse or explain this away. Take that in conjunction with what appears to be an attempt to make this a party political issue, and the impression given is poor. 

Don't get me wrong: this is a legitimate concern. It's just that, not for the first time, Corbyn messed up in how he approached it. I'm not fan of May, as I think everyone here knows - I think she's miles out of her depth. But Corbyn doesn't impress me either. 

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2 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

The obvious thought that comes to mind is how this differs from Western nations targeting individuals within the borders of other countries by way of drone strikes?

Isn't it just killing someone you deem an enemy of your country by whatever means necessary? Or are only certain nations allowed to do that?

Do you think the Russians would be happy if we started poisoning their citizens?

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1 minute ago, mormont said:

Well, for one thing drone strikes aren't regarded as a WMD and aren't banned. You may want to argue that they should be. But Russia has here been using a weapon that Russia has signed up to conventions agreeing never to use, and has claimed not to have, and the use of which could be devastating. One innocent member of the UK emergency services is in hospital.

Ok. That's a fair answer. A legalistic one. Which is quite valid, if such things are important to you at that level. Rather than a moral one, which at first glance I thought the outrage was about.

In general I don't dwell much on legal issues when it comes to the eternal geopolitical tussle between the Great Powers. To me international law is just another tool used to paint your opponent into a corner on one issue or another. Whether it be the invasion of Iraq, or of Kosovo or the takeover of Crimea.

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Posted (edited)
9 minutes ago, SeanF said:

Do you think the Russians would be happy if we started poisoning their citizens?

Nope. But if the victim was an ex-American who was a Russian double agent, they would probably protest in public, but pour a vodka behind closed doors to toast the Americans on winning that round, before starting to scheme on how best to covertly retaliate.

Edited by Free Northman Reborn

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Posted (edited)
18 minutes ago, mormont said:

Well, for one thing calling for 'dialogue' with Russia (however 'robust') seems pretty stupid.

Okay, what's the alternative to dialogue? War? Sanctions that will hurt the UK far more than Russia? Come on, I'm all fucking ears.

 

Edited by Spockydog

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Personally, I don't really grasp what Russia gains from such a visible act. Surely there are other ways to kill the guy that makes it look more like an accident? Why risk international relations out of a need for petty vengeance on a has been spy? Unless the purpose was to send a message to others. Which I guess is a feasible answer to my question.

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34 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Ok. That's a fair answer. A legalistic one.

I think the distinction between a drone strike and indiscriminate use of toxic nerve agents is somewhat more than a pettifogging legal point, but if you disagree, more power to you.

I would personally have guessed your opinion to be more like 'it doesn't matter what the distinction is or whether there is one, it matters whether the country concerned has the capability to defend itself'. (Which we do.) That would be a bit more in line with your usual libertarian line of guff, wouldn't it? And if that's so, I don't really see why you give a shit. 

26 minutes ago, Spockydog said:

Okay, what's the alternative to dialogue? War? Sanctions that will hurt the UK far more than Russia? Come on, I'm all fucking ears.

That's not the question. The question is, is dialogue a viable option? Can it possibly achieve anything other than giving Vlad a chuckle? 

Because if dialogue isn't going to achieve anything, then you do have to pick one of those other options, or do nothing at all, I suppose.

So tell me what this 'robust dialogue' achieves, how it ends in success, what that looks like. I'm all ears. 

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42 minutes ago, Spockydog said:

Okay, what's the alternative to dialogue? War? Sanctions that will hurt the UK far more than Russia? Come on, I'm all fucking ears.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-43380378
 

Spy poisoning: How could the UK retaliate against Russia?

UK Prime Minister Theresa May is braced to take "extensive measures" against Russia should it not offer a credible explanation of how an ex-spy and his daughter were poisoned on British soil with a military-grade nerve agent.

"Should there be no credible response," Mrs May told parliament, "we will conclude that this action amounts to an unlawful use of force by the Russian state against the United Kingdom".

But what are the options available for the UK - both on its own, and with the help of allies? And how likely are the US, EU and others to be on board?

What could the UK do?
Britain could expel Russian diplomats, as it did after the poisoning of former Russian Federal Security Service operative Alexander Litvinenko in 2006 with radioactive polonium.

But many argue that this, and the other measures that were taken after that killing - including visa restrictions on Russian officials - did not go far enough. The man identified as the main suspect, Andrei Lugovoi, is not just at large, he is now a Russian MP.

It could also:
  • Expel senior diplomats, perhaps even the Russian ambassador, and known Russian intelligence agents
  • Take some sort of action to bar wealthy Russian oligarchs from accessing their mansions and other luxuries in London, as suggested by Tory MP and House of Commons foreign affairs committee chair Tom Tugendhat. One way this could happen is through the use of Unexplained Wealth Orders, which allow government officials to seize assets including property until they have been properly accounted for
  • A boycott of the Fifa World Cup in Russia later this year by officials and dignitaries - a symbolic move that UK allies are unlikely to emulate
  • Taking Russian broadcasters such as RT (formerly Russia Today) off the air - broadcasting regulator Ofcom has said it will "consider the implications for RT's broadcast licences" after Mrs May speaks on Wednesday
  • Pass a British version of the 2012 US Magnitsky act, which punishes Russians involved in corruption and human rights violations with asset freezes and travel bans. It is named after a Russian lawyer who died in custody after revealing alleged fraud by state officials. MPs have been pushing for a Magnitsky amendment to be added to the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill now going through Parliament
Could the EU impose new sanctions?
Current sanctions on Russia that Britain supports are imposed via the European Union. They were first passed after Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimean peninsula in 2014 and backed rebels fighting in eastern Ukraine.

The measures target Russia's state finances, energy and arms sectors and include:
 
  • The exclusion of state banks from raising long-term loans in the EU
  • A ban on exports of dual-use equipment that could be put to military use and a ban on EU-Russia arms deals
  • A ban on exports of a wide range of oil industry technology
  • Western asset freezes and travel bans on 150 people, including senior officials, and 38 companies
EU countries are already divided on the sanctions, with diverging views among members as to how Russia should be treated. States like Hungary, Italy and Greece have all supported the weakening of sanctions.

Some doubt whether Britain could convince the bloc to further toughen its measures against Moscow, especially with the UK on its way out of the Union.

Could Nato act?
By framing the poisoning as a possible "unlawful use of force" by Russia against the UK, Theresa May prompted questions as to whether this could be a matter for Nato, the military alliance of 29 countries.

The alliance's policy of collective defence - under Article 5 - states that an attack on any one ally is seen as an attack on all.

It was invoked for the first and only time by the United States after the 9/11 attacks.

Lord Ricketts, a former UK national security adviser, told the BBC that such an "unlawful act" warranted the involvement of Nato.

Any action "will be much more effective if there can be a broader, Nato-EU solidarity behind us", he said.

But Downing Street has played down suggestions that this is an Article 5 matter.

For its part, Nato has called the attack "horrendous and completely unacceptable". Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the incident was of "great concern" to the alliance, which has moved in recent years to deter Russia by sending troops to Poland and the three Baltic states.

Lord Ricketts suggested one option involving Nato could be a reinforcement of resources on the group's eastern flank.

What about the UK's allies?
The UK could also seek to bring the issue to the UN - and seek to gather international support for action against Russia.

Theresa May has already spoken to France's President Macron and the two leaders "agreed that it would be important to continue to act in concert with allies", according to Downing Street. Although Mrs May has not yet spoken to President Trump about the case there have been "conversations at a senior official level".

The UK has already internationalised the matter by asking Russia to provide a "full and complete disclosure" of the Novichok nerve agent programme to an international agency, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

Indeed, the magnitude of the response that may be announced on Wednesday will depend on the scale of international co-operation that Mrs May can secure, says BBC Diplomatic correspondent James Landale.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders called the attack an "outrage" and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson went further, saying the attack "clearly came from Russia". President Donald Trump himself has not spoken out.

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Posted (edited)
42 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Personally, I don't really grasp what Russia gains from such a visible act. Surely there are other ways to kill the guy that makes it look more like an accident? Why risk international relations out of a need for petty vengeance on a has been spy? Unless the purpose was to send a message to others. Which I guess is a feasible answer to my question.

By doing this so publicly there's no doubt at all about what they want - and you cover it at the end.

They want to send a few messages.

Nobody is safe.

Enemies of Putin will be "retired".

Britain is weak; and neither the EU nor US will go to bat for them.

Putin can basically whatever the F*** he wants; no-one can call him to account.

Edited by Which Tyler

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5 minutes ago, mormont said:

That's not the question. The question is, is dialogue a viable option? Can it possibly achieve anything other than giving Vlad a chuckle? 

Because if dialogue isn't going to achieve anything, then you do have to pick one of those other options, or do nothing at all, I suppose.

So tell me what this 'robust dialogue' achieves, how it ends in success, what that looks like. I'm all ears. 

I haven't got a clue. The simple fact is, Putin can do whatever the hell he likes and we're powerless to prevent it. Yet somehow, Theresa May draws plaudits for her 'tough' statement on Russia, when in reality, there's fuck all she can do, while Corbo gets roasted for being the only adult in the room, and pointing out what a hypocritical bunch of cunts the Torys are for taking mountains of cash from our enemies.

 

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17 minutes ago, mormont said:

I think the distinction between a drone strike and indiscriminate use of toxic nerve agents is somewhat more than a pettifogging legal point, but if you disagree, more power to you.

I would personally have guessed your opinion to be more like 'it doesn't matter what the distinction is or whether there is one, it matters whether the country concerned has the capability to defend itself'. (Which we do.) That would be a bit more in line with your usual libertarian line of guff, wouldn't it? And if that's so, I don't really see why you give a shit. 

Because the official Republican position disseminated to the followers is that Russia is now AOK and totally not doing anything wrong. Because admitting they are would be to admit that Trump at least tried to conspire with them and that they covered it up.

I mean, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson just got fired right around the same time Trump released a statement that says  "As soon as we get the facts straight, if we agree with them, we will condemn Russia or whoever it may be". And the State Department is claiming they didn't hear about the firing until Trump tweeted about it today. Which all suggests it's about Tillerson backing the UK's assessment in contradiction to Trump's position.

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9 minutes ago, Spockydog said:

I haven't got a clue. The simple fact is, Putin can do whatever the hell he likes and we're powerless to prevent it. Yet somehow, Theresa May draws plaudits for her 'tough' statement on Russia, when in reality, there's fuck all she can do, while Corbo gets roasted for being the only adult in the room, and pointing out what a hypocritical bunch of cunts the Torys are for taking mountains of cash from our enemies.

May can do a bunch. If the US would back her (questionable given Trump is a Russia stooge) she could do even more. There's plenty of financial ties between the UK and Russia that can be attacked.

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11 minutes ago, Spockydog said:

I haven't got a clue. The simple fact is, Putin can do whatever the hell he likes and we're powerless to prevent it. Yet somehow, Theresa May draws plaudits for her 'tough' statement on Russia, when in reality, there's fuck all she can do, while Corbo gets roasted for being the only adult in the room, and pointing out what a hypocritical bunch of cunts the Torys are for taking mountains of cash from our enemies.

 

There's plenty we can do diplomatically and economically, as Which Tyler's post shows.

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