UPDATE: Interview from the Diane Rehm Radio Program. Listen to Interview Here.
Ex Russian Spy and Putin Critic, Alexander Litvinenko, Dies in London After Sophisticated Assassination.
What Are the Implications?
The UK has entered crisis mode, holding several high level security meetings.
The Diplomatic war could be huge.
Report From The AP/ Houston Chronicle
Report From The UK Independent
British citizens are being tested for possible contamination.
More information about Polonium 210 and who may be involved.
Yahoo News report shows Rogue Russian agents could be involved.
This is the problem when you have thugs and maniacs (like Putin, Bush, & others) in charge of governments; there is always a higher risk of something like this happening. The problem with people like Putin and leaders of other rogue countries is that their recklessness makes it so easy for them to misstep. They often do not understand the difference between what is acceptable and what is unacceptable. This kind of instability and lack of good character & judgement often leads to international incidents. Leaders like these are prone to miscalculation, because it's easy for them to lose sight of reality. I have been warning about this kind of situation for years... where one side makes a big misstep due to the lunacy and recklessness of government leaders. In both the East and West, we have Old Guard relics from the early parts of the Cold War... and both are dying for some sort of confrontation with the other. In the U.S., there are the neo-cons..... wealthy pro-war nuts who are still in the 1970's and 80's in their thinking. On the other side, you have Russia being run by a gang of thugs, called The Siloviki, a group of hardline, corrupt, old school politicians who come from the old military and KGB establishment.
Russia has not had a strong, stable, and competent leader in at least 15 years. Gorbachev (under the Soviet Union) was the last good leader that Russia had.
As I have said several times on this blog, the Cold War never really ended when the Berlin Wall came down and when the Soviet Union officially ceased to exist not long after. This is one of the biggest misconceptions that the media has been spreading for the past 15 years.
Bush says that he "looked into Putin's soul"....and liked what he saw. He thought that Putin was someone that he could work with. But I will tell you what I saw. I saw a hardliner with no interest in having friendly relations with the U.S. Putin himself stated that he wanted to return Russia to its old Soviet greatness.
Putin was a handpicked thug, chosen by his predecessor Boris Yeltsin, another corrupt politician (although he deserves credit for preventing Russia from imploding after the temporary & dangerous overthrow of Mikhail Gorbachev in 1991). The two nations (the Soviet Union and the U.S.) were on high nuclear alert during the incident, one or two steps from launching attacks. However, Yeltsin (The President of Russia at the time) took control of the military and prevented a catastrophe. The coup was quickly put down by Yeltsin and Gorbachev's secret police.
But where are we now? The U.S. has been lying to itself for years now regarding Putin, hoping that a productive relationship could be achieved and maintained. The U.S. was hoping that Russia would finally turn around (despite neglecting Russia for most of the late 1980's and throughout the 1990's by not reaching out nearly enough to help it to transition & by not reducing the number of dangerous weapons). Now look at the pattern that has emerged. You have civil and human rights in Russia being trampled, you have opposition silenced, you have government control of media, there is a bogus Democracy, government control of private property, there are assassinations, arrests of dissidents, intimidation of smaller States in the region, the central government consolidating its power, and more.
The events in Russia over the past several years have been astonishing. In fact, the backslide has been frightening. What we basically have is a rogue State (Russia), being run by a group of thugs, who convinced a weak Boris Yeltsin to hand over power in 1999. It's basically a corrupt dictatorship with thousands of nuclear weapons pointed this way. Personally, I would rather have the good old days of the 1970's and 80's back. At least then there was a sense of stability on both sides.
Perhaps ex-spy chief Vladimir "The Godfather" Putin and his fellow thugs are only taking a page from the Bush administrations playbook. Bush has been silencing dissent, has tried to control information, has been involved in torture tactics, has been involved with overseas kidnappings, has tried to punish people by going outside of the established legal system, has tried to limit free speech, has tried to consolidate power and abused powers of the State, and more. So in that sense, Putin and Bush have a lot in common. Bush's example has led to governments all over the World abusing their powers because officials in these countries believed that they could do so based on what the U.S. was (and is) getting away with. Thanks a lot George W.
However, I think the World has now reached a tipping point with Putin. The EU, NATO, and especially the UK and the U.S. will have to face reality. It is not a new reality, because it has always been there. However, the Western world has avoided facing it. Now they will have no choice but to face it. A government was most likely behind this poisoning, due to the complexity of the act and the rarity of the weapon used.
This incident comes weeks after the assassination of the prominent Russian reporter Anna Politkovskaya, another critic of Vladimir Putin. As I mentioned... a pattern has been emerging with Putin since he took office. Now his thugs are involved in killing people on foreign soil. This makes the past look mild. This will be the event that gives pause to governments around the world.
This incident has the potential to be the worst diplomatic, Cold War crisis since the standoff in Kosovo in 1999 between Russia and NATO, or the U.S. spy plane landing in China. In fact, this could be much worse than those incidents. For one thing, you have Russian agents using a radioactive substance as a weapon, risking the contamination of the general population.
The UK, and likely the U.S. and much of the EU will be forced to respond to this crisis. The UK is already calling this case extraordinary and unprecedented. They have NEVER seen anything like this (to include the worst times when relations were bad with the Soviet Empire). They will not be able to downplay this case or cover it up.
What Will Be The Likely Response from the UK? What Are the Options?
Well, if the Russian government is found to have been involved, there are a few moves that can and probably will be made by the UK and other nations and entities like the EU, NATO and the UN.
1. The UK can launch an official protest with the United Nations Security Council.
2. The UK can eject all Russian government officials from its territory... diplomats, etc, and can close the Russian embassy in Britain.
3. The UK can eject the Russian Ambassador & his immediate staff only, and can recall the British Ambassador from Russia (instructing the British Ambassador to return to the UK).
4. The UK can eject only those people implicated in the act.
5. The UK can arrest and try those Russians who are implicated, even though traditional diplomatic immunity agreements usually prohibit the arrest and processing of foreign diplomats. However, due to the severity of this incident, that may be voided.
6. The UK can cut diplomatic ties with Russia.
7. The UK and the EU can ban Russian diplomats from entering Europe or individual countries. The UK and EU can also ban or limit travel of various (or all) Russian nationals.
8. The UK could limit economic cooperation with Russia.
9. The EU and the U.S. could block Russian entry into the WTO (I think that is pretty much dead after this incident).
10. Russia could be asked to break its relationship with NATO (it has observer status).
11. Russia may be asked to leave the G-8.
12. Airline service from Russia could be blocked.
13. The UK and various countries could review their Trade relationship with Russia.
14. Russian goods could be boycotted.
15. Any kind of cooperation agreements could be reviewed and abandoned & projects still in progress could be halted.
--- If action is taken, a combination of these options will likely be used. You could see these kinds of actions taken in various other countries besides the UK. None of these options are good for either Russia, the U.S. or the EU. And the EU is in a bad position to do many of these things, since the EU is basically dependent on Russian energy (natural gas and oil). Russia could retaliate by cutting off energy supplies. (This whole thing could get ugly).
However, this incident will probably force the hand of a lot of countries. There will be a lot of pressure for these countries to send Russia a message. None of the above actions will likely be permanent....only temporary to send a diplomatic message.
Hopefully this Cold War flare up will remain Cold....and will be dealt with diplomatically and sensibly. However, names like George Bush, Tony Blair and Vladimir Putin do not give me confidence that this will be the case. None of these men are honorable, sensible, worthy of the trust of the people they supposedly serve, none are diplomatically skilled, and all three seem corrupt.
It will be interesting to see what Russian dictator Vladimir Putin does when his time in office is over. If Putin tries to hold on to power or handpicks an old KGB buddy then we will know for sure that he doesn't want a true Democracy.
What are the true intentions of Mr. Putin and what direction is he taking Russia in? Only time will tell. So far, it doesn't look good.