All quiet on the Skripal Front; “highly likely” still passing for evidence

The Skripals were released from hospital and "were taken to a secure location" in Spring, 2018

The Skripals
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All Quiet on the Skripal Front

Buried away in a timeline of “What we know about the Skripal Poisoning” theBBC noted  in October, 2018: “Ms Skripal was released from hospital on 9 April and her father was discharged on 18 May. Both were taken to a secure location.”

Where? Have they been given new identities and new lives, as in the American “witness protection program”? One way or another, they have been shelved, or even silenced. Except for the fallout — which still abides — all has been quiet for more than a year. 

The worldwide impact was historic, and the expulsions around the world were page one news. One should have expected banner headlines
SKRIPALS RELEASED FROM HOSPITAL But no. The Skripals being released from hospital was a single sentence in one of the back pages.

Evidence has not been forthcoming, but the actions, for which the Skripal Affair excused, are still with us. As Shakespeare put it, “The evil men do…”

Let’s look at the evidence that spurred the biggest expulsion of diplomats in history.

Well, what evidence?

Professors, when serving as a referee for a scholarly journal, know full well that “doubtless,” “no doubt,” “assuredly,” “certainly” all mean the same thing: the author has no evidence and is trying to slip something into a refereed journal that he has not backed up — or indeed, cannot — substantiate.

You may imagine, then, the bemused reaction of this retired prof reading about the Skripal Affair. More than a year has passed, and I have had to stop holding my breath waiting for the follow-up documentation: There has been none. Looking back on the affair, I see instead, a catalog of weasel-words. 

  • The poisoning was “almost certainly” approved by the Russian state.
  • The novichok “is likely to have been deployed by a “state actor”.
  • Another spokesperson was more circumspect: it was “75% certain.
  • And of course, Theresa May said it is “highly likely” that Russia was responsible
  • European Council President Donald Tusk said Monday, speaking in Bulgaria the European Council agreed with the UK “that it is highly likely the Russian Federation is responsible” for the poisoning.

And what response did they expect from Russia?
“A constructive response:”

“This sends a clear message to Russia that there are costs and consequences for its unacceptable and dangerous pattern of behavior,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg as he announced the expulsions. “And it follows Russia’s lack of constructive response to what happened in Salisbury.”
The “unacceptable and dangerous pattern of behavior” that we accuse Russia of.

What, pray tell, would such a contructive response have looked like? We confess, we did it, we’re sorry? 

Baloney, or “Not worth five kopecks” apparently was not constructive!
I append a news item that lists the expulsions by country. The expulsions are accomplished. The Skripals have been out of hospital and “in a secure location.” The Skripals, and all the “highly likely” lines, have done their work. In all Sergei’s years as a double agent for the Brits, he never accomplished anything this big. Here is a news item that sums up the end result:

Here are all the countries that just expelled Russian diplomats

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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks at a news conference at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, March 15. (Olivier Hoslet/Epa-Efe/Rex/Shutterstock)

By Michael Birnbaum

March 27, 2018

BRUSSELS — Twenty-seven countries around the world, including the United States, have announced plans to toss out Russian diplomats in an unusually coordinated response to a nerve-agent attack in Salisbury, England, that targeted a Russian ex-spy and his daughter.

Affecting at least 151 people, it is the largest expulsion of Russian diplomats since the Cold War — and virtually unprecedented in scale and scope. In Europe, even countries that normally pursue Russia-friendly policies, such as Hungary and Italy, joined the action as a sign of solidarity with Britain, a marker of just how disturbing they found the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia. Britain has pinned the blame squarely on the Russian government. Most countries said they were expelling diplomats they believed were actually undercover intelligence agents.

Here’s the full list so far:

United States: 60

Britain: 23

Ukraine: 13

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NATO: 7

Canada: 4

France: 4

Germany: 4

Poland: 4

Czech Republic: 3

Lithuania: 3

Moldova: 3

Albania: 2

Australia: 2

Denmark: 2

Italy: 2

The Netherlands: 2

Spain: 2

Belgium: 1

Croatia: 1

Estonia: 1

Hungary: 1

Ireland: 1

Finland: 1

Latvia: 1

Macedonia: 1

Norway: 1

Romania: 1

Sweden: 1

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