I’m sure I don’t need to remind anyone about the events of the Salisbury attacks only a short time ago, when poison gas was used in an attempt to assassinate a former Russian double agent and his daughter. Indeed, the event has already been plastered all over the news, as new developments have constantly transpired.
I believe, however, that one of the most significant events of this situation has occurred just recently, with the mass expulsion of Russian diplomats from countries allied to Britain, both in North America and Europe.
I do believe that this attack was orchestrated by the Russian state and their secret services, since this attempt on the former agent’s life, Sergai Skirpal, follows an M.O that’s been well established. Using poison to covertly assassinate, in this case it seems mere chance has intervened and revealed the perpetrators.
But I am not here to debate who was responsible for the attack, something that has already been done innumerable times in other media. Rather, I’m more interested in how the latest diplomatic response from our allied countries is incredibly important.
Some context; as I see the situation, and going with my previous judgement that the attack was Russian-acted, I believe that the objective of this attack was more than just eliminating a former agent. That may have been a facilitating factor, but that simple desire seems to be smaller than the means deployed.
After all, the Russian secret service has proven before that it knows far more efficient, and far more stealthy, ways to execute former agents, which leave far less to chance. The use of gas is a highly unpredictable method, not to mention overcomplicated, for an assassination such of this.
This leads me to the second judgement; eventually, an attack such as this was meant to be discovered, or at the very least blamed on Russia, after which Putin’s gambit would come into play.
The isolation of Britain in its weakened state, and the weakening of NATO.
It would make sense to do so. After all, Russia has been testing the UK’s power projection for months through both naval and aerial means, this is the natural progression of that. In light of our increasingly strained relations with Europe, and America’s increasing isolationist rhetoric, it would be unlike Putin to attempt to take advantage of the situation.
After all, Putin is a Chess player, and the conditions were all in his favour. The gamble? That Britain would find little help in either Europe, who are actively seeking better relations in Russia, and America, who would do little in aid. This could potentially create a rift between Europe and the US, the two bastions of NATO, leaving the UK in the middle, humiliated and alone.
A smart play, and with relatively little risk, as Russia is already isolated by many in the West, so it therefore had little to lose but much to gain, but it seems that the gamble has utterly failed, perhaps in a way that even the Russians had thought unlikely.
Instead of diplomatic strife in NATO as to how to deal with the Russian problem, there has been a relative amount of unity. Instead of isolation, there has been solidarity. From the US to Moldova, there have been signs of solidarity with the UK in the expulsion of diplomats, presenting the
surprising image of a NATO that, for the first time in a while, is somewhat united against the threat posed by Russia.
It’s been a propaganda victory for the UK, who had been suffering questions as to its relations to foreign powers, but now it is able to use the situation to its advantage. The West has effectively affirmed that despite Brexit, Great Britain doesn’t stand alone.
Independent, but united.
For Russia, its hard for me to see how they could’ve predicted this as anything other than a worse case scenario, as I doubt many even in the West could have predicted this would’ve happened before the events took place. It puts at risk the EU’s mission to them, which promised various investments to Russia, that it will have been keen to have, as well as their deteriorating reputation in America.
It is also a major propaganda loss, especially while they are still involved in conflicts around Ukraine and Syria.
While Russia didn’t have much to lose, the state of its economy alone means it won’t be keen to lose what it does have, and their Government is no doubt attempting to mend relations covertly without saving face. Most of the damage has been done, however.
Put simply, however, the most important element is that Britain’s allies have gathered around her and acted in solidarity. It would’ve been easy to ignore the events, even perhaps in their interest, especially in the EU’s case.
Instead, however, it has been proven that the West as a body can still function, and that Britain still has clout on the world stage when confronted. If nothing else, it sparks hope in me for Britain once we leave the EU.
Once that happens, we may well stand alone as an independent nation. But we are allied to others. We have relations with others. We can act with others. So let us stand alone.
For we will stand alone together.