No one was surprised when the Russian government announced that, in retaliation of Britain expulsing 23 Russian diplomats from the country, it will expulse the same number of British diplomats as well.
I have to admit that we have to give it to Russian government representatives: their act on “feeling insulted” that United Kingdom would do such a thing and throw out innocent *sigh* Russian diplomats based on “groundless accusations against Russian Federation” is indeed commendable. They are not stupid; they know perfectly that the poisoning attempt was indeed ordered by Russian highest officials. Being able to still act in spite of knowing clearly that their position is fake takes some talent.
In addition to British diplomats being sent home, Russia had decided to close the British council that operated in Moscow and withdrew the allowance of another UK consulate being opened in Saint Petersburg.
As expected, Theresa May continued to stand her ground and to uphold the international law and Chemical Weapons Convention – both created by the Western vision of international relations and international system. Who else if not Western countries will defend those concepts? It is clear once again that Russia does not respect the international agreements and order.
That being said, this tension between UK and Russia can be quite beneficial to one particular person, who is attempting to be reelected to 4th non-consecutive presidential term: Vladimir Putin. Although it is evident that Putin does not have an electoral challenge – no one is even close in terms of opinion polls –but Putin’s main concern is low turnout rate and legitimacy problems among the Russian people.
He definitely hopes that this will encourage Russians to go and vote actively, because “Homeland is once again being taunted by the evil imperialistic West” and “Vladimir Putin is the true patriot and is only person capable of dealing with this”.
While Theresa May wisely said that the disagreement is between UK’s government and Russian government, and NOT Russian people – a wise attempt to disarm Vladimir Putin from using this as a weapon for his own purposes – I doubt that her words will reach a lot of Russian people. Either the main News channels – who are connected to oligarchs that are loyal to the government – won’t inform the public, or inform after the election will be over.
Still, the UK is right when trying to create an appropriate response to the attempt of murder of Skripal by the orders of Russian government. In addition to already mentioned responses, the UK will also allocate extra funding for chemical defence centre in Porton Down (government’s science hub). Furthermore, the special OP troops will receive anthrax vaccine, which will be an importance defence against Russian-made nerve agents.
This attention to its defence and security is a nice change. The UK’s defence budget bad been steadily decreasing and decreased from 3.56% at 1990 to 1.84% of GDP in 2016. Meanwhile, Russian defence budget in 2016 stood at 5.4% and had increased by a third since the Russian unofficial invasion of Ukraine in 2014. Talk about peaceful Russia.
Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, said that this UK’s decision is nothing more but a provocation seeking a cheap distraction of the British citizens from the difficult Brexit negotiations. So, apparently, Russian actions in British soil trying to kill a person Russia hates is now considered to be the distraction created by the British government themselves. Wow. That’s.. something. You live and learn, I guess…
The funniest thing in the article, though, is the Russian ambassador’s in London, Alexander Yakovenko’s, response about lack of political culture. He even mentions that, since living in London, he is already used to this.
Actually, I think that in a way he’s got a point. In Russia, the politicians and diplomats are not used to hearing the truth and being told what exactly does the other side – the opposition (true opposition, not the controlled one in Duma) – think. Simply because the opposition is almost non-existent and is dying by the day.
It is understandable that in that political climate, the opposition (and people in general) will wary before saying what they are really thinking. This, of course, creates a bubble when Russian diplomats and politicians only hear what they want to hear. Except from Putin and his gang, of course, but that is a special case, anyway and it is not for mere plebs to be at that level.
Killing journalists and members of the opposition as well as fights in the country’s parliament Duma truly are the signs of political culture of highest calibre. Definitely.
There is another upside of this international crisis. In addition to the UK showing its backbone, all of this has united many Western governments. United States, France and Germany continues to support the United Kingdom and had jointly created a statement, where they condemned the “first offensive use of military-grade agent in Europe since the Second World War”.
It is clear that Putin did not expect this unity, which is the best news that in the current international context could be.