‘Wave of Russian diplomat expulsions is coordinated political warfare against Moscow’
Retired UK diplomat Peter Ford also thinks it’s the elites clutching onto power as they face more internal opposition. “The scale of it is surprising indeed, but it is just proof that hysteria is contagious. What we’ve witnessed in Britain in the last two weeks has been a classic case of hysteria whipped up by the government and fanned by the, mostly right wing, press,” Ford noted.
Half of the European Union’s member states decided to expel Russian diplomats over the Sergei Skripal case. The move came despite zero evidence that Moscow was responsible. British Prime Minister Theresa May repeatedly accused Moscow of being behind the poisoning of former spy Skripal and his daughter in the town of Salisbury in early March.
During a summit in Brussels last week, the 28 EU leaders agreed with Britain’s claim that it is “highly likely” that Moscow was responsible for the attack on Skripal. According to Ford, the events of the unfolding crisis are actually “the reaction of elites to the loss of power.”
“The elites have lost in recent years in several contests, Brexit referendum, notably, and the elites seat very much on the defensive against the forces of so-called populism, which is democratic movements that the elites don’t like,” he noted.
Ford pointed out that while the recent moves by the Trump White House against Moscow are increasingly hostile, the torrent of expulsions came shortly after Trump reportedly defied his advisers and made a congratulatory call to newly-elected Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“It’s quite clear that Trump’s gut reactions show some understanding towards Russia and a real wish to cooperate, hence the notorious phone call, [in] which he apparently ignored the written reactions from the deep state,” Ford said, noting that Trump is limited in what he can pull off.
“He has been caught up in this wave of hysteria,” Ford said.
US President Donald Trump added more fuel to the fire when he ordered the expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats from the United States, as well as the closure of the Russian Consulate in Seattle on Monday. Of the 60 diplomats expelled, 12 formed part of the Russian mission to the United Nations.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Moscow would respond to the actions of each individual state that has expelled Russian diplomats.
The way the entire situation was tackled by the White House, notably the justification for the Seattle Consulate closure due to its proximity to a submarine base and Boeing facilities, proves that it is a total farce, Ford said.
“It makes one worry if American security is so imperiled by the presence of Russian diplomats on their doorstep,” Ford said, describing the narrative as “cartoonish,” and the portrayal of Russia and Putin as “pantomime villains” as “not serious.”
Former US diplomat Jim Jatras told RT that he believes this is “coordinated political warfare against Russia.”
“It’s global in scale, and it really has nothing to do with Salisbury, that’s a pretext. And, to tell the truth, what Mr. Trump wants or doesn’t want is not really relevant as far as this aspect of US policy in global policy goes, he might as well not be the president at all.”
“This is a political pretext, like the kind of accusations we have seen against Syria and chemical weapons, [it’s designed] to ratchet up the pressure on Moscow to discredit the recent Russian election, and also I think it’s aimed at the World Cup this summer.”
John Graham, another former US diplomat, based in Libya, said the situation with the poisoning of the Skripals is “very complicated stuff,” but that Trump does not have the tendency to delve deep into any complicated matters, preferring simple solutions instead.
Stating that though the nerve agent which Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with likely came from Russia, it does not mean that it was Russians who did it, arguing that the Skripal case has been extensively used to gain political points.
“The important thing is now, listening to all these diplomats talking, is that no one seems to be taking these things seriously, they are treating this like a game, this is just the latest chapter in developing Russia events.”
However, some see the future of relations between Moscow and the West as not so grim
“My guess is that it will calm down for a while,” Peter Galbraith, former US ambassador to Croatia, told RT. “After all, the US, Europe and Russia all need each other. In spite of this incident, the common threats, that is to say the Islamic State, North Korea, Iran, require cooperation [in] terms of threats to each of our countries. Those issues are much more important.”
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