NEWS
07/04/2018 10:49 BST | Updated 10/04/2018 10:50 BST

Why Does Russia Have More Than 20 Explanations For The Salisbury Poisoning?

'A rich buffet of nonsense.'

As the Salisbury spy poisoning case rumbles on, many questions remain unanswered: who ordered the attack, where was the nerve agent was produced, and why can’t Boris Johnson agree with chemical weapons experts at Porton Down? One thing that isn’t in question, however, is that it’s very likely Russia was behind the shocking nerve agent attack. 

But Russia, in denying culpability, has offered not one but more than 20 alternative explanations for what might have happened. Why so many? Why not pick the most plausible, stick with it and offer as much supporting evidence as possible?

Professor Mark Galeotti, senior researcher at the Institute of International Relations in Prague, said: It’s a lot more effective to blast out a cloud of different theories because what happens is different people will respond to different ideas.

“There are some people who want to believe it’s some sort of evil plot by the British Government to kick out Russian diplomats. Other people will want to believe it’s just incompetence or the Russian Mafia.”

Here are the some of Russia’s alternative explanations...

1) The Brits Did It

The Russian state-owned news channel, Sputnik, has repeatedly argued that Britain has the most to gain from the death of Sergei Skripal. In an editorial last month, it wrote:

Given their inveterate anti-Russian agenda, the British authorities have much more vested interest in seeing Skripal poisoned than the Kremlin ever would.

Later, it also said:

What’s much more plausible is that the British authorities staged the event as a propaganda stunt to frame and further demonise Russia.

Some of these theories are then taken up by higher profile commentators like the journalist, John Pilger. He was then invited onto Russian state-owned RT to voice his opinion that the entire Skripal affair is a “carefully constructed drama as part of the propaganda campaign” to “justify the actions of NATO”.

2) The Skripal’s Aren’t Dead, So Something Is Suss

A lot of people on social media have expressed apparently concern that the Skripal’s are still alive, as if evidence of their recovery is a sign it could not have been Russia behind the attack. 

This has also resulted in the number of apparently qualified nerve agent experts in the UK exploding dramatically.

This time Neil Clark was invited onto RT to discuss the apparent discrepancy of Hassan Akkad “Lazarus-style recovery”.

There are simple explanations as to why the Skripals were not killed instantly –absorbing a nerve agent through the skin is slower and less fatal than inhaling it, and the pair were given treatment relatively soon after exposure.

Even well-documented nerve agent incidents, such as the sarin attack on the Tokyo underground in 1995, resulted in far more people being injured than killed – 50 and 12 respectively. 

As for antidotes, they do exist – although some Novichok agents are designed to be resistant to them. 

Galeotti added: “This is one of the ways in which the Russians often work – they get to get to enjoy the rich buffet of nonsense that Western lunatics come up with and simply pick which ones they’re going to offer to a wider audience.”

3) It’s Linked To The Pee-Tape. Somehow.

The state-owned channel, Russia 1, broadcast a monologue by a host in which he said: “Skripal’s poisoning is somehow linked to the Trump dossier, since his British handler was a major contributor to Steele’s report and British intelligence agencies might have been pumping Skripal for information.”

4) Someone Who Has Never Seen Midsomer Murders Did It

This theory came from the Russian UN ambassador Vasily Nebenzya. In an extraordinary statement, he said: “Couldn’t you come up with a better fake story?

“Everyone who knows crime novels, for example, the Midsomer Murders – a well-known British series – they all know hundreds of very clever ways of killing someone.

“However, those who sought to kill Sergei Skripal and his daughter supposedly chose an extremely toxic chemical substance, the most risky, dangerous method possible.”

5) It’s Brexit’s Fault 

During a press conference this week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, suggested the whole Skripal affair is a smokescreen to make us forget about how badly Brexit is going.

Sergei Karpukhin / Reuters
Sergei Lavrov.

He said: “There are other explanations besides those put forward by our Western colleagues who declare that it can only be the Russians who are responsible.

“Experts say that it could be highly advantageous to the British security services as well, who are well known for their capacity to act with a licence to kill.

“It could also be advantageous to the British government, who clearly find themselves in a difficult situation, having failed to fulfil their promises to voters over Brexit.”

 

6) It’s A Distraction From Russian ‘Successes’ In Syria 

Russian Foreign Ministry has also claimed it was a western plot to discredit its “successes” in Syria.

A spokesperson said: “The world should have been shown somehow that in fact Russia is not a peacemaker, but it plays a some sort of own game.

“Immediately, a new spiral of anti-Russia campaign has surfaced embodied in statements of the UK prime minister.”

Khalil Ashawi / Reuters
A man sprays water on an ambulance at a site hit by what activists said were three consecutive air strikes carried out by the Russian air force, the last which hit this vehicle, in the rebel-controlled area of Maaret al-Numan town in Idlib province, Syria January 12,