The global crisis over the poisoning former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, 66, in Salisbury, the U.K., in early March continues.
The British government held Russia directly responsible for the poisoning with a Soviet-era nerve agent and has deported dozens of Russian diplomats. Many other countries have also followed suit. Russian President Vladimir Putin has been acting on the basis of reciprocity, with Moscow having declared dozens of U.S. diplomats persona non grata the day before.
During his visit to Turkey on Tuesday, Putin said: "According to assessments by international experts, such chemical elements can be produced in 20 countries around the world. Scotland Yard, the U.K.'s organization for combating organized crime, announced that they need a few months to complete this investigation."
Putin said that they want to support the investigation in the U.K., adding that they would initiate an investigation in Russia, as well.Despite all the objections and cooperation offers from Russia, it is widely believed and unquestioned that Russia was behind the poisoning, so much so that my column last week on the issue stirred a debate.
In fact, what I did was question the basis of the statement from British Foreign Affairs Secretary Boris Johnson, who held Putin responsible for the attack.
And I think every journalist who wants to understand the case has that right. This is because the allegations in question have no basis except for the history and record of Russian intelligence.
Moreover, there are serious questions about what kind of benefit Russia could have expected from such an event.
In fact, the interests of Russia and the U.K. in the Asia-Pacific and the Middle East are becoming common in the face of the U.S. and the EU, which is progressing along the same axis.
Moreover, it does not make sense that Putin would take such a risk that would challenge him in the international arena for an inactive former spy at a time when opinion polls put it clearly that he would win the election with support exceeding 70 percent, and when he needs more legitimacy than anything else.
Now, for those who reach me via social media and email and disdain the incident, considering it nonsense that this poisoning could have been committed by a player other than Russia – for example by those who shed blood in British streets before the Brexit vote – is there any reason for you to talk so precisely about the incident apart from the U.S. saying that they asked the British and the British said Russian did it.
The British government will either listen to zealous politicians and U.S.-based manipulators and foil the Brexit gains or it will soon accept Russia's offer of cooperation to investigate and evade a global provocation.