On Saturday 30 June, in the sleepy little town of Amesbury, England, a middle aged couple – Dawn Sturgess, 44 and Charlie Rowley, 45 were found in medical distress. At first, British authorities believed their condition to be the result of either a heroin or crack cocaine overdose, as both individuals are known to be “recreational drug users”.
Three days later it was announced that Sturgess and Rowley were in fact stricken by the exposure to the nerve agent Novichok. This of course is the same Novichok poison that was allegedly used in the attempted murder of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Julia back on 4 March.
Since Amesbury is just 11 kilometers away from Salisbury, where the Skripals were attacked, the official conclusions was that the two cases must be linked. That sounds logical enough.
Therefore it makes sense that the British government would blame the same alleged culprit. Home Secretary Sajid Javid rose in Parliament to demand, “that the Russian State come forward and explain what has gone on.” For good measure, Javid added that “ it is completely unacceptable for our people to be either deliberate or accidental targets, or for our streets, our parks and towns to be dumping grounds for poison.”
It is not exactly in the same league as Winston Churchill’s rousing 1940 “we will fight them on the beaches” speech, but Javid would have us believe that the UK is under a direct chemical attack by the Russians.
The question begs not only where is the proof, but also what is Russia’s motive? To date, the UK authorities have not identified a single suspect involved in the Skripal attack, and have yet to even identify how and where the Skripals were exposed to this “deadly, military grade nerve agent”. Theories range from liquid applied to their door handle, vapor through their car vents and the substance being planted into Julia’s suitcase.
So far no one has even speculated as to how the recreational drug users Sturggess and Rowley were exposed, other than it is somehow collateral contamination from the Skripal attack.
It was a bit of a stretch to understand why Russian secret service agents would plot such an elaborate assassination of Skripal. Yes, he was discovered to be a double agent working for Britain’s MI6 back in 2004. He was convicted in 2006 and spent four years in jail. In 2010 he was released to the UK as part of a spy swap deal.
Any secrets Skripal has acquired as a traitor to Moscow would have been fourteen years out of date, and he has been left alone for eight years since the Kremlin felt it safe to release him. So why kill him? And why use a “deadly, military grade nerve agent”, rather than simply shooting him in a fake robbery?
I do not think any one will be able to come up with a plausible motive as to why Russian agents would return to a place near the scene of a crime to risk attacking a couple of recreational drug users in the middle of the World Cup, which as Sectary Javid pointed out means “ the eyes of world are currently on Russia”.
We were told to believe that the Russian Sate was implicated in the Skripal attack by UK Prime Minister Theresa May because there was simply no other possible theory. Canada and 26 other countries took May at her word and dutifully expelled a total of 151 Russian diplomats from embassies around the world.
Then on 31 May we had a truly bizarre case of the Ukrainian intelligence service faking the death of Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko . Since Babchenko was a rabid critic of the Putin regime, the blame was immediately placed on the shoulders of Putin’s murderous henchmen.
Britain’s ever comical Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson tweeted out a demand for Putin to be brought to justice. When Babchenko held a press conference two days after his “death” to announce he was still alive, his convoluted explanation was that Putin would have killed him if he did not fake his death.
In addition to the Babchenko case proving Ukraine intelligence has a clear motive to discredit Russia with a fake assassination, they are also a former Soviet Republic meaning they would also possess the Novichok agent.
Speaking of which, despite all of the emotive descriptions of Novichok as a “deadly, military grade nerve agent,” it has proven to be rather unreliable. To date, of the five people allegedly exposed to it — the Skripals, Sturgess, Rowley and police Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey — only Dawn Sturgess has died while the other 4 have all recovered.
By comparison, it is expected that over 4000 recreational drug users will die this year in the UK as a result of the burgeoning opioid crisis. Blame that on Putin.