So, a Russian spy turns double agent and sells out his country for personal gain.
Does it surprise anyone that an assassination attempt might be made on his life? Do you think the spy would be surprised?
In this case, I’m talking about one Sergei Skripal, who betrayed Russia after being “turned” by Britain’s M16, according to Russian accounts as reported by Reuters. He allegedly was paid $100,000 for the doublecross.
But he got caught, was tried by a Russian military court, convicted and jailed for 13 years in 2006, a fairly lenient sentence given the penalty other doublecrossing Russian spies have paid: death. It is a wonder Russia didn’t execute Skripal in 2006.
In 2010, he was pardoned and was part of a prisoner spy exchange between the U.S. and Russia: the U.S. had nabbed 10 Russian spies. Russia handed over four people, including Skripal, and got back 10.
So, Skripal has been living in Britain since then in relative obscurity until last week, when he and a daughter were found sitting in a stupor on a park bench, the apparent victims of a nerve agent, British authorities claim. The two remain in hospital in critical condition.
British authorities say the poison was from the “Novichok group of nerve agents developed by the Soviet Union’s military in the 1970s and ’80s,” and they have accused Moscow of launching an attack with this terrible stuff on British soil.
Moscow denies the allegations, but the British have determined Russia is guilty regardless, and have kicked out Russian diplomats and now Russia has responded in kind.
Personally, I’m not so sure Russia was behind the attack on Skripal. There are too many questions, such as why now? They could have executed Skripal in 2006. They’ve had plenty of time since then.
And call me naive, but I still believe in the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, even if it is accompanied by a healthy dose of suspicion. Perhaps British intelligence knows more than they are telling us, but I am not willing to take anyone’s word for it.
But surely there are other possibilities. Perhaps Skripal was attacked by an individual he compromised when he ratted out Russian agents in the West to M16 officials. Perhaps he was in possession of the nerve agent and somehow poisoned himself. Perhaps he was an innocent victim of some other sort of plot. Perhaps he was hit by ISIS. Perhaps someone is trying to frame Russia, for more dangerous reasons. Indeed, in these strange political times, I would bet on the latter. And so on. . .
Thing is, in the spy vs. spy game, the possibility of an instant and unpleasant death comes with the turf, especially if you become a double agent and compromise people. You have a lot of enemies, both individually and nationally. In Russia, Skripal is a traitor. He sold out his country for personal gain.
So, I am not surprised that someone tried to assassinate him. I’m just surprised that it took them this long if, in fact, someone tried to assassinate him at all.
It has been written: Live by the sword, die by the sword.
It’s probably one of the first things they teach you in Spying 101.
I cannot blame you for your cynicism, especially when you recall the economy with the truth we had in the past over Iraq. Let’s unpack some of what you wrote though.
Quoting Russian sources, you wrote that Sergei Skripal betrayed the country of his birth for $100,000. That doesn’t seem so very much, considering the possible consequences, which you pointed out. Can we trust those Russian sources to tell the truth? (I am asking the same question a Russian citizen might be asking, just about face.)
Skripal had been tried and convicted for his crime. If you believe in ‘innocent until proven guilty’ then once someone has served their sentence then they have paid for their crime. The difference here is that Skripal was part of a spy swop. The convention is that they are left alone as long as they stay out of the politics of the country they spied against. Unless you know different that is what Skripal did.
Plus, here is another thought, and I admit pure speculation. It could be that Skripal had been blown long before his arrest and trial. If you discover a spy, don’t remove them but control what they see or assume everything they have access to has been compromised. Then when you want one of your spies back, you have something to trade with. Cynical of me, I know but perhaps that’s the best way to look at such things.
All this is just an extension of the ‘great game’ played by Britain and Imperial Russia in the 19th Century, and written about by Kipling in his book, Kim; it just has far more serious consequences and more players.
I agree with all you’ve said here. But there is something much bigger going on than a simple hit by Russia on an old spy who has been out of the game for several years. It looks like someone is trying to create an international incident and discredit Russia. I mean, if Russia simply wanted to kill this guy, a bullet fired from a gun with a silencer would have worked just as well. Someone is trying to make it look like Russia is using a nerve agent. Of course, what do I know, except not to accept anything at face value.
Agree and true. It has been raised by Auntie Beeb more than once (and no doubt other broadcasters too), why use a kill method that would finger you almost right away? Why use something that puts others at risk too – Skripal’s daughter is still gravelly ill, as is the police officer? You don’t think the Russians killed Skripal, knowing we’d kick off and give Putin a boost in the polls, do you? Am I being too cynical! Was the alleged ballot box stuffing just ‘plan B’?
Putin didn’t need any help winning the election, and I doubt he cares much about polls. There’s something else going on, far more than we will ever know, I am sure.
No! Are you sure? You are correct, something else is happening here, and while I have ideas they are outside the scope of this discussion.