The world held its breath watching the British government rant and rave. The threats were truly scary and the ultimatum was grim enough to give one goosebumps. Finally it all boiled down to the expulsion of 23 diplomats, threats to freeze suspicious bank accounts, the suspension of some bilateral contacts, a revoked invitation for the Russian FM to visit the UK, and the cancellation of plans by senior officials and members of the royal family to travel to see the World Cup games.
Diplomatic relations will not be severed. Russia was not added to the list of state sponsors of terrorism, as the PM had threatened to do. Instead, the British government announced some rather symbolic retaliation measures, some of which are nothing more than compliance with the Criminal Finances Act that has been in effect since 2017.
All in all, it’s much ado about nothing. No trade wars. RT can continue broadcasting. The relationship has taken a hit, but far less than what had been anticipated. The question is — why did London stop short of full-blown row with Moscow?
Voices were heard calling for a detailed investigation before any final conclusions were reached. Labor Leader Jeremy Corbyn said the UK needed “a robust dialogue with Russia on all the issues” and warned against cutting off ties. He came under harsh criticism in Parliament, although the only thing Mr. Corbyn wanted was some evidence to go on before pointing the finger at Moscow. He just wondered why the government had not made a formal request for information in accordance with Article 9, clause 2 of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC)? He got an emotional response, but nobody explained why the procedures described in the convention had not been invoked.
And what if Mr. Skripal pulls through and offers quite a different story? What if new witnesses appear whose testimony moves the investigation in a different direction?
The UK evidently does not want to go the whole nine yards to uncover the truth. It prefers to make accusations first and launch a halfhearted investigation second.
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