Being asked quite a lot in person but also online so here is example of brief exchange:
What’s your take on the current UK/Russia rhetoric? No one wants to see this kind of use of chemicals used anywhere. However, the cynic in me has questions about the motivation for the anti-Putin messages.
I recall how political leaders who are deeply unpopular at home love to ratchet up Foreign issues to try and improve their ratings. Thatcher did this with the Falklands.
I don’t know enough about Putin to form a coherent view though.
We don’t know for sure the nature of the attack, whether it’s a nerve agent or not. There are some inconsistencies including a policeman in hospital but an account from a doctor was published who said that she attended to Skripal’s daughter and put her in the recovery position. This was a similar time period to the policeman so why no side effects. If this is true she had more physical contact.
But there is no way to verify this as Counterterrorism and military have authority that some police do not.
A normal govt who was able to make this accusation so quickly about this being highly likely to be Russia with a compound made only in Russia would be required to contact Russia about it which they did not do and due to chemical/biological changes may now be impossible.
I’m not saying CT & military involvement necessarily wrong but their control of investigation means less information available to the public including evidence.
It’s strange they didn’t contact the Russian embassy because they are high profile (not as in public but would be known to the Russian govt), perhaps because that could trigger processes which would complicate or disprove the accusations. But having lived abroad I find this very strange.
We have no way of knowing if either the Russian govt, non govt Russian citizens or anyone else had a motive because he was a spy, info would be classified and in theory only available to people with appropriate security clearance, however we live in a world where information sent securely can be accessed by people with the technological know how.
He was pardoned by Russian govt several years ago. He could have been doing corporate / private investigation work that could have caused the incident.
Other factors could be the Russian presidential election which is Sunday and we are approaching peak Putin hysteria with the UK, some EU govts and the US wanting Putin unelected, dead or damaged so they can profit financially from a chaos that would occur which would be similar to early 1990s.
I don’t think Putin is a saint unlike some members of the Orthodox church but I don’t think he has done all the things he has been accused of. Politically he has significantly helped Russia grow into a beautiful 20 year old who knows her own mind and is itching to explore the world again.
Did he handle ‘teenage tantrums’ as best he could – probably not as well as he could have done.
I think he is right of centre but not far right, generally decent but has an arrogant attitude to women (like many men) have no idea if Russian govt had an agenda that did involve or didn’t involve Skripal any more – he is an old spy as such so struggling to see a serious motive.
But the media have done their best to escalate tensions so whether they did or not may become irrelevant. Other geopolitical factors too – the US election, the discovery by Syrian army of chemical weapons this week, Israel, Iran, Saudi visit etc I have one conspiracy theory about it that I’m keeping to myself, probably everyone does.
It’s very upsetting for anyone interested in improving western / Russian relations so difficult not to be emotional about it.