Theresa May calls for long term response to Russia

The spat between the United Kingdom and Russia over the alleged nerve gas poisoning continues to escalate with UK Prime Minister Theresa May calling for a long term response, after a growing number of countries (New Zealand excluded) expelling Russian diplomats.

Reuters: Britain’s May calls for ‘long-term response’ to Russia after spy poisoning

British Prime Minister Theresa May called on Tuesday for a “long-term response” by the West to the security threat from Russia as NATO followed member states in expelling Russian diplomats over the poisoning of a double agent in England.

In the most sweeping such action against Moscow since the height of the Cold War, the United States and European Union members plan to expel scores of Russian diplomats in action against the Kremlin for the nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter which they have blamed on Russia.

Russia, which denies any part in the March 4 attack on the Skripals, says the West’s action is a “provocative gesture” and has said it will respond.

The coordinated action among Western allies is seen as a huge diplomatic coup for May whose country is preparing to exit the EU bloc and may have had doubts about how much support she could count on.

Speaking to senior cabinet members in London on Tuesday, May said countries had acted against Russia not just out of solidarity but because they recognized the threat it posed.

Other diplomat/spy expulsions:

  • NATO 7 (plus 3 others pending)
  • Australia 2
  • USA 60 (their largest expulsion since 1986)
  • New Zealand 0

Russia has threatened symmetrical expulsions.

Bloomberg: Trump’s Russian Expulsions Leave Moscow Stunned

The MOEX Russia index of stocks closed down more than 2 percent, its steepest slide in almost a year, led by Gazprom PJSC and Sberbank PJSC. The ruble erased gains, trading little-changed at 57.3075 per dollar as of 7:12 p.m. in Moscow. The government’s 10-year ruble bonds dropped, lifting the yield five basis points to 7.06 percent. Russian credit-default swaps climbed to the highest since Jan. 1.

While the nerve gas poisoning has precipitated this it may be just a final straw.

Reuters: Before expulsions, a brick-by-brick hardening of U.S. stance toward Russia

America’s most sweeping expulsion of Russian diplomats since the Cold War may have seemed like a dramatic escalation in Washington’s response to Moscow, but the groundwork for a more confrontational U.S. posture had been taking shape for months — in plain sight.

While President Donald Trump’s conciliatory rhetoric toward Moscow has dominated headlines, officials at the U.S. State Department, Pentagon and White House made a series of lower-profile decisions over the past year to counter Russia around the world – from Afghanistan to North Korea to Syria.

The State Department earlier in March announced plans to provide anti-tank missiles to Ukraine to defend against Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine. Trump’s predecessor as president, Barack Obama, had declined to do so over fears of provoking Moscow.

In Syria last month, the U.S. military killed or injured as many as 300 men working for a Kremlin-linked private military firm after they attacked U.S. and U.S.-backed forces. The White House, meanwhile, firmly tied Russia to deadly strikes on civilians in Syria’s eastern Ghouta region.

In particular Europe is joining in taking a stand. NY Times: How an Outraged Europe Agreed to a Hard Line on Putin

The European Union is not usually a model of decisiveness, but the expulsion of Russian diplomats across the Continent on Monday was a dramatic and pointed gesture. It came in concert with a similar, larger move by the United States, which expelled 60 Russians, and signaled a new, tougher effort to punish bad behavior by President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

“I can’t think of any previous occasion when so many countries have coordinated on expulsions,” said Ian Bond, a former British diplomat in Moscow, adding that for many of the smaller countries, “it’s the first time since the Cold War that they’ve even expelled one Russian diplomat.”

Russia is always a tricky issue for the European Union, given its critical role as an energy supplier to the Continent, as well as the divided opinion among leaders on how confrontational, or not, the bloc should be with Mr. Putin.

But the March 4 poisoning in Salisbury, England, of the former Russian spy, Sergei V. Skripal, and his daughter, Yulia, crossed a line. The British authorities say they were exposed to the nerve agent Novichok, representing the first use of a chemical agent on European soil since before the Second World War.

The brazen nature of the act was too much for European officials to ignore.

“This is an intelligence operation carried out with intelligence capacity with weaponized, weapons-grade chemical agents,” one senior European official said. “It has taken matters to an entirely different level.”

Alluding to Russia’s earlier aggressions in Ukraine, the senior official added, “Russia keeps violating international law in Crimea and Ukraine and unwritten rules on nonintervention, and now there is the use of nerve agents in Britain.”

Mr. Macron and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany were prominent supporters of Mrs. May’s call for action, having planned tactics with Britain before the dinner. The French had provided the British with technical assistance on analyzing the poisoning case and come to the same conclusion. And when the Franco-German couple agree, others tend to fall into line, even if grumpily.

The decision was finalized Monday morning, as European Union ambassadors met in Brussels to describe what each country was prepared to do.

tensions are likely to continue and will probably increase as Russia retaliates.

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38 Comments

  1. Trying a bob each way:

    Better relations seem a long shot at the moment.

    Reply
  2. Blazer

     /  March 28, 2018

    oh the irony…NZ is a member of 5 eyes which is a spying network.It is acceptable to spy on allies like Germany and other friendly nations and spying on our own citizens has been introduced.Theresa May ejects Russian diplomats/spies ,what about Russian oligarchs!

    Reply
  3. lurcher1948

     /  March 28, 2018

    I remember the UK standing shoulder to shoulder with us(NOT)when the French bombed the Rainbow Warrior.No the gutless Poms said go suck on a lemon we stand besides our BETTER friends the French

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  March 28, 2018

      So do I Lurch, & they weren’t such great mates when they dumped us for the Common Market. But that bombing was in 1985. A lot of water has passed through Auckland harbour, the French have stopped nuclear bomb testing in the Pacific, & we’ve all had a lot more PM & government changes since then.

      Reply
  4. San Zani e Paolo

     /  March 28, 2018

    Always worth playing Devil’s Advocate when the sheepdogs are loose. Or is it a wolf in a sheepdog outfit?

    No, it’s not worth saying anything when the sheep are stampeding towards a cliff just behind you, better not have been where you are in the first place.

    Occam says, “Pick the simplest explanation possible. Cut out the complications with my Razor”.

    Sherlock says, when you have removed the impossibles, whatever left, however improbable, has to be the explanation.

    Now filter this “nerve gas poisoning” through what you KNOW of the geography and other constraints, and consider this: How likely is it that Theresa May’s explanation is the proper one?

    Once you’ve got that sorted out: What do you do?

    Shame to have a million years of evolving a human brain and only use it to regurgitate, unscanned, “information” of dubious provenance. Bah Humbug. If a Wolf eats you, it’s not MY fault.

    SZ+P

    Reply
    • High Flying Duck

       /  March 28, 2018

      Occams razor strongly implicates the Russians. It is only when you put on the tin foil that other options emerge.
      Are you suggesting all the countries retaliating against Russia have not been shown strong evidence?

      Reply
      • San Zani e Paolo

         /  March 28, 2018

        Duck, Occam requires all the arguments out in the open, including (as per Sherlock Holmes) all the apparently ridiculous ones.

        T May has not been allowed to say that the chemical agents involved definitely came from Russia. Porton Down has refused to allow her to confirm this as a legitimate statement. All that has been published is not evidence that is of a standard acceptable in a Court of Law – anywhere.

        Asimismo, our Government has refused to hand samples to “the accused” in violation of international chemical warfare agreements. Occam has been wondering about the physical existence of samples.

        Use of the phrase “you put on the tin foil” is a veiled ad hominem move and is discountable.

        As I said, if you treasure the brain that God and your Mum and Dad and Teachers gave you, for Dogs Sake use it and don’t just repeat the proper gander. Ugh.

        I might get bored with this or we might have a nice dialogue.. your move.

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  March 28, 2018

          I’m bored already.

          Reply
          • San Zani e Paolo

             /  March 28, 2018

            I can tell you’re easily bored, Wilko. Short sentences, shorter content, from other evidence. So why bother? Haven’t added much to the debate. Go on, why not have a try?

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  March 28, 2018

              You produce screeds saying nothing except you think it is a conspiracy – with zero evidence. So of course anyone sensible gets bored with you.

        • High Flying Duck

           /  March 28, 2018

          The British investigated. They asked France to also investigate, which it did.
          Both have said the overwhelming evidence is that the poison originated from Russia.
          Germany said it was shown “certain evidence” that Russia was to blame and had no hesitation on the matter.
          Donald Trump was equivocating, but then said the evidence he had seen made him certain Russia was to blame.
          The reaction to date suggests Russia’s increasing encroachment into Western affairs has reached a tipping point. There is quite unusual solidarity in the response.
          If you have another suggestion other than “use your grey matter”, I’ happy to hear it.
          But false flag talk makes my eyes glaze over.

          Reply
          • San Zani e Paolo

             /  March 28, 2018

            I’d be happy, for a start, to see a timestamped photo, including BP/Sats/HR, of the two allegedly poisoned Russians. Everything else is Hearsay, or “Trust Me Please”. And anyone who thinks Gov might not occasionally deceive their own citizens is living with the cuckoos in cloud land.

            I want to see some evidence. Please!

            This is seriously looking like a challenge to war. Anyone who just swallows the news unthinkingly is blameworthy for the consequences
            .

            Reply
            • High Flying Duck

               /  March 28, 2018

              You seem to be spreading fake news.
              Porton Downs HAS identified the poison, and HAS said it is Russian in origin.

              ” The laboratory was instrumental in identifying Russia as the source of the nerve agent used to target Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia 10 days ago in Salisbury. The pair remain in a critical condition in hospital.

              Scientists from Porton Down have also been at the centre of the clean-up operation in Salisbury following the attack, which has prompted one of the biggest crises in UK-Russian relations since the end of the cold war.”

              Not only that, Theresa May has unequivocally said the poison is a variant of Novichok.

    • Gezza

       /  March 28, 2018

      So who did it & who was behind it, and what was the objective?

      Reply
      • San Zani e Paolo

         /  March 28, 2018

        Gezza, I hope that you or some other insightful commentators might have something to add. For me, it’s pretty obvious. I could hint at the term “arkancide” but that would miss the target a bit.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  March 28, 2018

          Yeah you could but you could just answer the 3 questions properly & give your reasoning & then I could consider that.

          Reply
          • San Zani e Paolo

             /  March 28, 2018

            ho! Here is me trying to help you guys exercise the grey matter, and you want the exam answers written out in full! How lazy is that?

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  March 28, 2018

              I’m not lazy. I’m using the grey matter. This is what I’ve always done. I abhor time wasting when someone knows something or thinks they do & faffs about thinking they’re showing their intellectual superiority. So I ask them to say exactly what they mean. Which is the intelligent thing to do But some thick people don’t see that.

  5. David

     /  March 28, 2018

    Quite a bit of coverage of Ardern in the UK media and her claims we have no one to expel because all the Russians here are good guys and we have nothing worth keeping an eye on, the papers also point out we are part of 5 eyes.
    Dont think the UK is particularly pleased with us on this matter, this is a Peters thing not an Ardern thing, and while I am not convinced it was a Russian hit its pretty clear the rest of the Western world has decided enough is enough with Putins game and its time to take a side and NZ for no good reason has decided to stand aside.
    5 months in we have annoyed the Australians, the White House, the Philippines, the EU and now the UK and all for zero benefit, advantage, moral stance or as far as I can see any reason that matters. Add that to the anti Chinese campaigns and turning up late to the Indonesians to virtue signal it all looks a bit ugly.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  March 28, 2018

      Par for the course from a clueless and naive Lefty PM who spouts capitalism is a failure.

      Reply
      • lurcher1948

         /  March 28, 2018

        No matter what the right post,OUR PM is still in power

        Reply
        • David

           /  March 28, 2018

          Yes she is Lurcher and therefore she can take responsibility for this circus.

          Reply
          • lurcher1948

             /  March 28, 2018

            Bring back Sir Key, those were the days, i loved the pony gate circus and the EXPENSIVE flag circus ETC ETC

            Reply
    • NOEL

       /  March 28, 2018

      “we have no one to expel because all the Russians here are good guys.”
      Aw come on we have no Russians who fit the description of “undisclosed intelligence officer” .
      Let just close down the Russian Embassy and arrest all the occupants. Yeah that would really help the situation.

      My guess there have been many hours worked here and overseas by Kiwis gaining evidence to support the UK case.

      We’ve had shit from UK media for years over the All Black haka choice, clearly showing their lack of understanding, and this is just another example of their laziness.

      Reply
  6. Gezza

     /  March 28, 2018

    Paul Buchanan gives Ardern the benefit of the doubt for mis-speaking “MFAT” when she meant “SIS”. He goes on to give an excellent summary on the meaning of spies vs intelligence officers & the intelligence gathering role of Embassy attaches.

    https://www.radionz.co.nz/audio/player?audio_id=2018638141

    Reply
  7. RICHARD

     /  March 28, 2018

    Politics is brutal. NEVER feel “sorry” for a Prime Minister.

    Reply
  8. david in aus

     /  March 28, 2018

    We need to look at the Labour/NZ coalition agreement. The NZherald has stated: “After the poison attack, Ardern said New Zealand would no longer restart free trade talks with Russia – a promise that Labour and New Zealand First had agreed to in their coalition deal”

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12021812

    Why was the Russia-NZ free trade agreement in the coalition deal? If it is affecting policy- it should be subject to the Official Information Act.

    NZ being soft on Russia’s misdeeds is very suspicious. We are an outlier in the Western world. Why?

    NZF/Labour need to disclose their conversations and deals with Russian interests.

    Sunshine is the best disinfectant.

    Reply
  9. Gezza

     /  March 28, 2018

    Todd to Peters

    Reply
  10. NOEL

     /  March 28, 2018

    Australia finds two out of seven. http://protocol.dfat.gov.au/Mission/view.rails?id=166
    We find none out of two.
    Plausible.

    Reply

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