Putin Poisons Another Critic

| September 15, 2020 | 25 Comments

The following is behind a paywall, otherwise, I’d just link to it instead of copying it to the net. There was also a brief reference to it on the evening news last night, as Navalny’s condition seems to be improving.

You may recall that, two years ago, Sergei Skripal, one of Russia’s top intelligence agents, was poisoned with novochik, a nerve agent, by one of Putin’s agents while Skripal was in the UK. He knew he’d been poisoned at Putin’s direction and went public with it.  That stuff isn’t as subtle as Putin thinks it is.

By Ivo Daalder

August was busy for Russia this year. While dealing with growing popular protests in the east, Moscow has sought to distract attention by engaging in nefarious activities, both at home and abroad. It’s prepared to intervene in neighboring Belarus , confronted U.S. military forces on land, at sea and in the air, stepped up its interference in the U.S. presidential elections and poisoned yet another opposition figure .

None of these activities have gone unnoticed in Europe or the United States. But so far, the actions have been met with a few words of condemnation that together amount to little more than a collective shrug. When it comes to Russia, the West remains mostly divided — and no one has stepped up to lead the way to collective action.

There are some signs that may be changing, however, with Germany seemingly poised to lead an effort toward a more effective response to Russia’s continuing efforts to undermine security and stability in Europe and beyond.

When Alexander Lukashenko, Europe’s last dictator, blatantly stole the Aug. 9 presidential election in Belarus, Putin at first waited to see how developments would unfold. But with hundreds of thousands of Belarusians taking to the streets to demand Lukashenko’s ouster and new elections, Putin made clear where he stood. He announced the creation of a special security force that could be deployed at the Belarusian leader’s request, sent advisers to help Lukashenko control the opposition, and promised $1 billion in financial support, tying Belarus ever closer to Russia.

So far, Europe and the United States have done little more than condemn the flawed elections, express concern about violence and warn Russia not to intervene. But they’ve not imposed any new sanctions or put forward other measures to put teeth in these demands, implicitly conceding that Putin calls the shots.

Last month also saw Russia flexing its military muscle . Russian fighters flew within 100 feet of B-52 bombers flying over the Black and Baltic seas and later penetrated deep into Danish airspace as they flanked the bombers. On the other side of the world, six Russian maritime patrol aircraft flew close to Alaskan airspace, scrambling U.S. fighters to intercept the planes. And in Syria, a Russian patrol rammed a U.S. armored vehicle, injuring seven U.S. soldiers.

Not only are these actions dangerous, their aggressive nature emphasizes the Russian military’s increasing confidence in challenging U.S. and allied militaries across the globe.

Even though Moscow was caught red-handed interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the U.S. intelligence community reported last month that it was stepping up its activities in this year’s election. Russia, it said , is using “a range of measures” to undermine former Vice President Joe Biden’s candidacy and support the reelection of President Donald Trump.

While Democrats have predictably condemned Moscow’s blatant interference, Trump has dismissed the reports as a “hoax,” and some of his top appointees have told intelligence analysts to stop looking for Russian interference and focus on China and Iran instead. Meanwhile, Moscow continues to attack our democratic process.

Russia’s latest outrage is the poisoning of Alexei Navalny, Putin’s most severe and popular critic. After a comatose Navalny was flown to Germany for medical treatment last month, scientists there determined “beyond all doubt” that he had been poisoned with the chemical nerve agent novichok — the same chemical Russia used to poison its ex-intelligence officer Sergei Skripal in Britain two years ago.

It’s possible that the attack on Navalny will backfire on Putin. German Chancellor Angela Merkel reacted with fury to the poisoning, calling it an “attempted murder” and demanding the Russian government provide an explanation of this “crime intended to silence him.” Berlin has consulted with its EU and NATO allies, and is taking the matter to the organization charged with enforcing the global ban on chemical weapons.

Inside Germany, pressure is rising to take stronger action — including suspending or even canceling Nord Stream 2, the controversial and nearly completed pipeline owned by Russia that will supply gas directly to Germany without having to transit Ukraine or Eastern Europe. Key government ministers have suggested that the project be halted absent a convincing explanation by Moscow of what happened to Navalny.

There is an opportunity to turn this newfound determination into effective action. Merkel should agree to at least suspend construction of the pipeline (though its cancellation would be better). With that decision in hand, she should propose to her European and American allies to impose biting sanctions on those responsible for the attempt on Navalny’s life. And she should urge President Trump to reverse the announced withdrawal of U.S. troops from Germany — a decision that weakens NATO and is widely seen as a strategic gift to Putin.

It’s long past time to stand up to Putin. Moscow’s latest escalations only underscore the urgency. Normally, the U.S. president would galvanize the Europeans into action. Given Trump’s long-standing deference to Putin, that’s not going to happen. It’s now up to Merkel to take the lead. – article

 

Category: 2020 Election, Russia

Comments (25)

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  1. Toxic Deplorable Racist SAH B Woodman says:

    “Even though Moscow was caught red-handed interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election,……….”
    And the “Russia, Russia, Russia” rears its overinflated phony head again.
    Anyone got a nice, long hat pin? Just the thing to “POP” the hoax balloon (and maybe put the “point” to a few overinflated Never Trumper egos).

    • David says:

      Didn’t think their interference was a question. Knowing collusion was.

    • LC says:

      Echoing David, there were multiple examples where they were caught red-handed – one of my favorites was the Dutch, who caught them on video via their own hackers:

      https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2018/01/dutch-intelligence-hacked-video-cameras-in-office-of-russians-who-hacked-dnc/

    • Slow Joe says:

      Interference how?

      Did the Russians change votes in the voting machines?

      No?

      Then there was no interferance.

      • LC says:

        It’s never that simple. Imagine if a foreign actor were able to create a convincing ‘deep fake’ of, say, Joe Biden having sex with a man, or Donald Trump bragging about how stupid US troops are, or something like that. That would, in fact, change votes, albeit indirectly. They aren’t hacking into the voting machines (though that in itself is a long discussion..), but they are having an effect, given that the tallies would be different without that interference.

        Don’t like that example? Campaigns run on money. What if one party were hacked, their accounts drained, and they couldn’t run ads? Again, changed tallies without hacking the machines themselves.

        Indirect actions are still actions. If China or Russia detonated an EMP over US airspace, they’d directly have killed zero people… but the total disruption of all non-hardened modern communications, electronics, etc., would definitely result in considerable losses. It would be, clearly, an attack. Same with indirect effects on election efforts.

        There absolutely was, and always is, interference. But it’s been dialed up to 11, to stop speak. if you haven’t yet, go read the SSCI report – it’s worth it.

        • Hondo says:

          The media continuing to present as fact something that is unproven falls into the same category: e.g., it can also change votes. And the latter case, it’s hardly indirect or unintentional; most of the mainstream media dropped all pretense of objectivity during the 2016 election campaign and became active partisan participants.

          • LC says:

            I agree that presenting unproven news as fact has an effect, certainly. And I even agree that the media often picks sides… but I imagine that’s where our agreement ends. Defining the ‘mainstream media’ is hard enough, and it’s also not clear how many people get their news from what you classify as that any more.

            For example, let’s look at POTUS’s favorite ‘news’ medium – Twitter. He’s got 85.9 million followers there. Compare that to Fox, with record numbers, getting a whopping 3.57M viewers in primetime. Let’s compare that to Joe Biden’s paltry 9.4M followers, and CNN’s lame 1.81M primetime viewers. And before you counter with the NYT, their subscription numbers top out at 6.5M.

            It seems like railing against ‘the media’ as this overwhelmingly liberal thing is outdated given how ‘news’ is pushed these days.

            • Hondo says:

              C’mon, LC. You’re usually better than that.

              Still, here’s a simple definition for ya of who I’m talking about, albeit partial:

              • LC says:

                So I give you numbers illustrating reach over media, and you give me a … meme? You’re usually better than that, too, Hondo.

                Also, I can’t quite tell, but it seems that even the Fox News parakeet is thinking, though not squawking, “Orange Man Bad” here? Riiiight.

                • Hondo says:

                  In this case, after 2016 the bias should be obvious enough that specific numbers aren’t necessary. To anyone who hasn’t drunk the media-provided kook-aid, that is.

                  And, by the way: your numbers may be true (or not), but they were also irrelevant. While what people say on twitter may at times be “news” (or not, depending on context and who they are), someone’s Twitter feed itself is not. Twitter is essentially self-publication. In and of itself, it’s hardly either “news” or “unbiased”. It’s moderated; people who say things that Twitter finds objectionable enough get censored, remember?

                  In short: the numbers you provided were both non sequiturs and an irrelevant attempt to change the subject, AKA a “red herring”. A response in kind wasn’t even close to necessary.

                  And yes: IMO Fox has become more “mainstream-ized” over the years, though IMO it still hasn’t gone full open Leftist like most of the rest of the media. They at least maintain some degree of objectivity IMO, but the amount of such objectivity has faded over the years.

      • rgr769 says:

        All the US IC has to show as evidence of Russian election interference is those FakeBook ads, which likely influenced no one to change his or her vote for President.

    • 11B-Mailclerk says:

      I think it is a given that Russia wants to “sow discord in the enemy Camp” by casting doubt on our elections.

      Not so much picking a winner, but making us doubt any winner.

      I am certain that had Clinton won, all sorts of stuff would have been tossed in the fire, like the sketchier details of the Uranium One deal, or any number of emails thought “lost”. Russia was as surprised by the Trump win as everyone else.

      Given that China is an existential and next-door threat to Russia, and the only treat that could take away half of Russia if effort was expended, they may actually prefer Trump, as he has more reason to wreck China than Russia, assuming Russia plays it cool for a while.

      Then again, frakking kinda fracked Russia, hard, so maybe that was a bad bet.

  2. Sapper3307 says:

    Did he drink the Flavor Aid?

  3. 5th/77th FA says:

    Something else that is Trump’s fault. The Bear has been tugging on the Eagle’s feathers for decades. Putin is the bully on the playground that the more he gets away with, the more he will try.

    I’ve yet to figure where and when all of this Russian Collusion between Trump and Vlad has happened and where the benefit to either is. If I remember correctly, it was a former female secretary of state that sold the Ruskkies a bunch of uranium and a former POTUS who told them he would have “more flexability” after his re-election. And it was a former VP whose baby boy got him a nice gig with a gas company.

  4. penguinman000 says:

    The Dems scream Russian is a problem. The Repubs scream China is a problem.

    For once both parties are right about something at the same time.

    • 11B-Mailclerk says:

      Have you looked at Poland’s armed forces lately? They are arming up like they expect a major war. They are about to become the major European military power in terms of actual effectiveness. That has to be worrisome in Berlin and Moscow.

      And if anyone becomes a surprise member of Club Nuke, it is Poland. Because they have their own reasons to say “never again”.

      I think Trump sees someone to take the place of the US as the rapid-response-force for NATO. Also, probably sees something to scare the tar out of both Germany and Russia, thus bringing folks to the negotiating table.

      Also, a counter to Turkey going Jihad/conquistador. Poland has quite a history on that front.

  5. Looks like the above kitty wants to take a drink from that wine bottle but of course you’ve heard of catnip.

  6. A Proud Infidel®™️ says:

    Poisoned by Putin’s thugs, talk about toxic leadership!

  7. Hondo says:

    No surprise. The FSB’s predecessors (the KBG et al) had a long history of “wet work” regarding defectors and other expatriate opponents.

    • rgr769 says:

      The FSB is just following the long tradition started by Lenin’s Cheka, and carried on by Stalin’s KGB, of killing anyone they deem a threat to the communist totalitarian state.

      • Hondo says:

        True, and thanks for the reminder. For some reason, I was incorrectly remembering the Cheka as the Tsarist secret police organization. The Tsarist secret police organization was the Okhrana, not the Cheka.

        As you note, the Cheka was founded after the second Russian Revolution and served the Soviets.

        • rgr769 says:

          I had the fun of playing a Cheka officer in a college play written by a friend. In the play, my character shot an Orthodox priest who was found to be a counter-revolutionary enemy of the Glorious Revolution and Lenin’s Soviet State. I used my father’s Colt Woodsman and a .22 blank to carry out the theatrical “execution.”

  8. Ex Coelis says:

    Kinda like when Vinnie Jones tweaked Paul Gascoigne doo-dads back ‘88 – think it’s high-time we gave that ugly fuck’n Red Bear a damn good kick in the nuts…

    P.S. background for North Americans sports fans unfamiliar with this particular sports incident –
    https://www.thesun.co.uk/sport/football/7312348/paul-gascoigne-vinnie-jones-talksport-reunited/

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