By Roger Annis, A Socialist In Canada, April 5, 2018
Guardian newspaper bewails UK and NATO losing their propaganda drive against Russia over ‘chemical weapons used in England’ accusation
Two articles by the diplomatic editor of the anti-Russia Guardian daily in Britain, Patrick Wintour, amount to remarkable admissions that the British government is losing the diplomatic and public relations war over its attempts to smear Russia with accusations of chemical weapons usage on British soil on March 4.
The unproven accusations have been quickly used by Britain and other NATO countries to step up their new cold war against Russia. They have undertaken more sanctions and more threats against Russia since March 4, including expelling some 150 Russian diplomats from their respective countries.
Russia is accused by Britain and its NATO allies of the attempted assassinations of two former Russian nationals, Sergei and Yulia Skripal, in Salisbury, England on March 4, 2018. But the evidence is lacking and so cracks are appearing in the smear edifice.
Weblinks to the two Guardian articles by Patrick Wintour are below. In one, the Guardian editor explains that the reason the British government is losing the propaganda war it started is because “Scientific research and political rhetoric operate at different velocities, leaving a gap that Moscow has exploited.” In layman’s language, the editor is saying that leaders of the British government got carried away with their lies. They stretched the boundaries of credibility with false and unproven claims that the supposed chemical which poisoned the Skripals was manufactured in Russia and transported from there. In order to avoid being completely discredited itself, the British Foreign Office has been obliged to acknowledge that it has no such proof.
All this leaves aside the thorny problem that the very existence of a ‘Russian-made’ poison class of chemicals called ‘novichoks’ is unproven. A 2013 report by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) examined the class of chemical named by Britain as having poisoned the two individuals on March 4, 2018, so-called novichoks. The 2013 report concluded:
Regarding new toxic chemicals not listed in the Annex on Chemicals but which may nevertheless pose a risk to the Convention [Chemical Weapons Convention, Wikipedia], the SAB [Scientific Advisory Board] makes reference to ‘Novichoks’. The name ‘Novichok’ is used in a publication [2008 book] of a former Soviet scientist who reported investigating a new class of nerve agents suitable for use as binary chemical weapons. The SAB states that it has insufficient information to comment on the existence or properties of ‘Novichoks’.
Below is further examination of this side of the story, published in two parts by the UK-based Working Group on Syria, Media and Propaganda.
Russia has requested a meeting of the UN Security Council on April 5 to respond to the UK and NATO governments’ accusations. Prior to the meeting, the best that Britain’s representative to the United Nations could offer to journalists was, “We are confident of our position.” At the meeting, Russia’s representative called the whole story a “theatre of the absurd”.
On April 4, Russia requested that a joint investigation of the British accusations be conducted by the OPCW at a meeting of that body. This would supplant an “independent investigation” announced earlier by the OPCW and to which Russia is not invited to participate. The Russian proposal on April 4 was defeated by a vote of 15 to six. Britain’s representative to the UN Security Council repeated the refusal at the April 5 meeting.
Britain and NATO are counting on the fact that after one month of propaganda barrage against Russia, facts will not matter in the outcome of its propaganda war. The public perception of Russian skullduggery has already been created by the toxic media barrage accompanying the British accusations. But even the best laid plans can go awry. Witness the long-term discrediting suffered by the United States following its ‘weapons of mass destruction’ lies levelled against Iraq in 2002 and 2003.
NATO governments won’t stop lying. But as the aforementioned Guardian articles demonstrate, the lying edifice is not invincible. Though in this case, NATO’s new cold war continues to silence or intimidate antiwar forces.
Following an initial endorsement on March 15 of Prime Minister Theresa May’s accusations that Russia was behind the alleged Skripal poisonings, British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is now voicing some doubts. His change has been prompted by the embarrassing overstretch of Foreign Minister Boris Johnson. Two weeks ago, Johnson told the German media outlet Deutsche Welle that Britain’s chemical weapons laboratory, Portan Down, is “absolutely categorical” that the origin of the alleged poison was Russia. That blew up two weeks later when the Foreign Office was obliged to quietly acknowledge that the claim is not true.
 Corbyn stated: “Theresa May was right on Monday to identify two possibilities for the source of the attack in Salisbury, given that the nerve agent used has been identified as of original Russian manufacture. Either this was a crime authored by the Russian state; or that state has allowed these deadly toxins to slip out of the control it has an obligation to exercise…”
* Russian counter-propaganda exploiting UK weaknesses over spy poisoning, by Patrick Wintour, diplomatic editor, The Guardian, April 4, 2018
* Russia seeks to discredit UK with special meeting of UN Security Council, by Patrick Wintour and Pippa Crerar, The Guardian, April 5, 2018
An emboldened Russia will on Thursday attempt to discredit Britain’s international reputation at the UN after a series of blunders by Boris Johnson and the Foreign Office led to accusations that the UK had overstated its case that Russia was responsible for the nerve agent attack on the former spy Sergei Skripal.
Although the carefully crafted international alliance in support of the UK has held together despite Russian pressure, ministers were forced to backtrack from a claim by the foreign secretary that the UK’s chemical weapons watchdog had told him Russia was definitely responsible for the attack…
The following briefing note is developed from ongoing research and investigation into the use of chemical and biological weapons during the 2011-present war in Syria conducted by members of the Working Group on Syria, Media and Propaganda. The note reflects work in progress. However, the substantive questions raised need answering, especially given the seriousness of the political crisis that is now developing…
* Update to briefing note ‘Doubts about Novichoks’, by Paul McKeigue, Jake Mason and Piers Robinson, published by Working Group on Syria, Media and Propaganda, March 28, 2018
In view of the seriousness of the rapidly worsening relations between the West and Russia, and the quickly evolving military events in the Middle East, especially Syria, we have taken the step to publish relevant evidence-based analysis with respect to the Skripal incident of 4 March 2018. This update to our earlier briefing note covers new material that has become available…
* Alleged poisoning victim Yulia Skripal makes her first public statement on April 5, report on RT, April 5, 2018
* Knobs and knockers, by Craig Murray (former UK diplomat), published on his website, April 5, 2018 ‘It turns out that the British government’s evidence is no more than the technique of smearing nerve agent on a door handle.’ Also by Craig Murray: The poison in our body politic, April 4, 2018
* Salisbury poisoning: UK experts cannot prove novichok nerve agent used on Skripals came from Russia says UK Ministry of Defense, by Kim Sengupta, The Independent, April 3, 2018*
* West should be wary of casting first stone in spy case, by Scott Taylor, weekly ‘On Target’ column, in Chronicle Herald (Halifax, Canada), April 2, 2018