Les deux textes ci-dessous sont de deux auteurs que nous tendrions à classer sans hésitation comme antiSystème, qui ont une réputation de sérieux dans le monde de la presse-antiSystème, une influence certaine, des engagements (notamment pro-russe) assez proches, etc. Nous les citons régulièrement, “en confiance” dirions-nous, également en connaissant leurs formes de raisonnement et leurs expertises respectives. Les deux textes concernent le même sujet, – les expulsions de diplomates russes des pays du bloc-BAO en “riposte” à l’“attaque” de l’affaire Skipral/Novichok. (Notre époque est, dans l’emploi des mots courants, l’époque de l'emploi à profusion des guillemets, – même parr gestes, comme si nous étions tous sourds, pardon mal-entendants, – tant leurs sens et leurs valeurs sont l’objet de distorsions extraordinaires .)
Pourtant, on ne peut imaginer deux textes d’esprit aussi différents bien que reflétant le même jugement de fond, que celui du Saker-US et celui d’Alexander Mercouris. L’un, celui du Saker-US, est un cri d’alarme terrible et pressant, cherchant à communiquer à ses lecteurs le sens d’une folle évolution vers des évènements apocalyptiques sous la forme de la possibilité d’une guerre nucléaire d’anéantissement ; l’autre, celui de Mercouris, est une analyse pondérée sur les expulsions, tendant à réduire l’affaire à un affrontement d’influence et de renseignement entre les USA et la Russie où les premiers ont déjà perdu.
Les deux auteurs ont déjà montré des états d’esprit inverses, toujours avec le même accord de fond, dans d’autres occasions, sur d’autres sujets. Cela signifie que nous n’avons pas affaire à deux formes d’esprit, – l’un pressante, l’autre retenue, – mais à deux réactions de formes radicalement différentes, toujours selon le même accord de fond, de deux esprits qui ne cèdent pas unilatéralement à une seule forme, deux esprits qui expriment aussi bien la pression de l’urgence que la retenue de la pondération selon les circonstances. Le Saker-US a souvent montré qu’il savait, sur les sujets les plus graves, faire preuve d’une pondération et d’une retenue n’excluant en rien la clarté et la fermeté de l’analyse (voir d’innombrables textes de sa plume, pondérant avec calme les capacités militaires russes et américanistes, et les risques d’affrontement) ; Mercouris a déjà montré qu’il savait, dans son propre style, présenter un cas où il décrivait avec une extrême vigueur et d’une façon pressante une situation qu’il jugeait monstrueuse et extrêmement inquiétante (voir sur la même affaire Skipral/Novichok son texte du 20 mars 2018 où il met en évidence la perversion quasi-pathologique de la psychologie des commentateurs antirusses de la presse britannique).
Notre but est, ici, de montrer combien les esprits-antiSystème les plus remarquables ne peuvent éviter d’être soumis à une sorte de schizophrénie à laquelle l’extraordinaire comportement du sujet de leurs commentaires les oblige ; nous-même, à dedefensa.org, n’échappons pas à ce qui n’est ni une pathologie, ni un défaut d’humeur, mais une sorte de “méthode” d’analyse selon deux modes complètement différents, qui nous est imposée par le sujet de l’analyse. En un sens cette sorte de “schizophrénie méthodologique” nous est imposée d’une part par la situation du monde, d’autre part par le comportement de ceux qui servent le Système, directions-système et zombies-Système c’est selon. Les deux formes de raisonnement qui en résultent, qui semblent diamétralement opposées sont tout le contraire ; elles ne sont pas seulement complémentaires mais véridiques et fortement liées sinon amalgamées l’une avec l’autre, toujours selon ce que nous impose l’objet de l’analyse.
Ainsi, il conviendrait que ce que nous avons été conduits à désigner comme une “schizophrénie méthodologique” devrait être plutôt désignée, d’une façon fondée et mesurée, comme une “méthodologie schizophrénique”. De même, l’énigme dont il est question dans le titre, si elle semble concerner notre “méthodologie schizophrénique”, concerne en fait l’objet de notre analyse qui nous oblige à cette “méthodologie schizophrénique”.
L’essentiel est de garder son sang-froid et de savoir conserver ce “double regard” qui, en même temps, regarde l’objet à analyser, et se regarde soi-même en train de regarder l’objet à analyser. Les deux auteurs cités ont ce double regard, mais en cette occasion l’un choisit d’exprimer le caractère urgent et pressant qui est l’une des deux perceptions de sa “méthodologie schizophrénique”, et l’autre l’inverse. Bien entendu, aucun des deux ne perce pour autant l’énigme qui est l’objet de leur analyse, comme c'est le cas également pour nous-mêmes, ici à dedefensa.org.
Car c’est finalement, bien entendu, l’essentiel du débat, – cette énigme, leur énigme qui nous force à cette “méthodologie schizophrénique”. Comment expliquer cette situation du monde complètement incohérente et chaotique, même si l’on parvient, à l’intérieur de cette incohérence et de ce chaos, à dégager des lignes, des tendances, des relations de cause à effet permettant des jugements équilibrés de certains aspects du contenu de cette incohérence et de ce chaos ? Comment comprendre le comportement absurde et impuissant des acteurs-figurants, aussi zombies-Système que l’on puisse imaginer, réagissant comme des perroquets sans l’ironie flegmatique de ce volatile (le perroquet imite nos mots comme s’il se moquait de nous), semblant privés d’âme et de conscience, même si l’on parvient à décrire l’absurdité et l’impuissance de ce comportement ?
Au-dessus de cela règne l’ombre de cette énigme : comment et pourquoi agissent-ils comme ils le font dans le sens de l’absurdité et de l’impuissance sans s’interroger sur la cause de leur action, comment et pourquoi produisent-ils cette incohérence et ce chaos sans relever ce qui les pousse à cette production ? Il y a bien du temps déjà, selon nous, qu’aucune explication rationnelle dans le sens de la machination, qu’aucune explication humaine dans le sens de l’emportement de la passion, ne nous suffisent pour apporter des réponses satisfaisantes.
Chaque jour qui passe, chaque nouvelle crise qui s’installe dans le “tourbillon crisique” qui définit la situation du monde, confirme et confirme encore que la cause de cette grandiose et furieuse époque de désintégration du monde est nécessairement de forme et d’essence suprahumaine. L’énigme est à ce niveau, à cette forme de manifestation de puissance hors de portée de l’action et de l’explication de l’esprit humain.
Nous ne cessons pas d’en revenir sempiternellement à ce constat, sans pour autant apporter quelque élément que ce soit qui puisse ressembler à une explication accessible à la raison, – et pour cause d’ailleurs, puisque nous savons bien que l’énigme est ce qu’elle est à cause de notre incapacité de la percer à jour avec les instruments disponibles dans la réduction au seul esprit tel que nous croyons trop souvent qu’il est. Nous ne cessons pas d’en revenir sempiternellement à ce constat qu’il faut ouvrir notre esprit à l’intuition dans l’attente d’en obtenir quelque lumière ; car cette lumière, nécessairement, éclaire parfois et éclairera encore ce que nous nommons des vérités-de-situation, parcelles d’une Vérité d’au-delà de l’humain qui est seule capable de rendre compte des fondements, des ambitions et des projets d’une telle époque de déchaînement métahistorique, pour enfin ouvrir une porte à ce qui doit suivre, au-delà de la catastrophe.
...Pour en arriver là, nous étions partis de l’affaire des expulsions de diplomates russes, traitée par deux chroniqueurs, et nous terminons en revenant à ces deux chroniqueurs dont nous présentons ci-dessous les textes respectifs. Malgré toute la présentation que nous en avons faite, qui s’est éloignée bien entendu du sujet, il faut savoir que bien entendu leurs deux textes ont leur intérêt propre, et nous risquons même l’hypothèse que cette présentation qui nous a tant éloignés de leur sujet n’est nullement inutile pour aider à leur lecture, qu’il est même possible qu’elle la rende plus fructueuse encore, d’une certaine manière.
• L’article du Saker-US, qui est un cri d’alarme sur une situation, illustrée par un acte antirussiste compulsif de plus que constitue l’expulsion des diplomates russes, avertit qu’on se trouve dans un cas beaucoup plus grave que la crise des missiles de Cuba d’octobre 1962. Il réaffirme l’espèce de sensation qu’on a que les pays du bloc-BAO pensent qu’on peut faire capituler la Russie par la pression, l’invective, la diffamation, bref le simulacre de la narrative, alors qu’au contraire la Russie ne cédera jamais et ira jusqu’au conflit au plus haut niveau s’il le faut, avec les risques terribles d’anéantissement, – et le bloc-BAO aux premières loges, jusqu’au cœur de l’Amérique profonde qui n’a absolument plus de capacités de sanctuarisation en aucune façon. (Site TheSaker, 26 mars 2018.)
• L’article de Mercouris, d’une façon très différente, donne en grands détails les conditions diverses de l’expulsion des diplomates russes, – en très petits nombres de la part des Européens, en nombre important (60) de la part des USA. Il y aura certainement une riposte ruse, dans une circonstance où les pays du bloc-BAO ont beaucoup plus à perdre en perdant leurs diplomates en Russie que le contraire. Pour Mercouris, la réaction US est en fait un geste de colère à la suite d’une expulsion massive de “diplomates” US de Moscou en août dernier (755 !), qui explique, avec d’autres mesures prises contre les “ONG” US ou à financement US, l’absence totale d’agitation subversive durant les élections présidentielles russes. (Site TheDuran.com, 27 mars 2018.)
Frankly, I am awed, amazed and even embarrassed. I was born in Switzerland, lived most of my life there, I also visited most of Europe, and I lived in the USA for over 20 years. Yet in my worst nightmares I could not have imagined the West sinking as low as it does now. I mean, yes, I know about the false flags, the corruption, the colonial wars, the NATO lies, the abject subservience of East Europeans, etc. I wrote about all that many times. But imperfect as they were, and that is putting it mildly, I remember Helmut Schmidt, Maggie Thatcher, Reagan, Mitterrand, even Chirac! And I remember what the Canard Enchaîné used to be, or even the BBC. During the Cold War the West was hardly a knight in white shining armor, but still – rule of law did matter, as did at least some degree of critical thinking.
I am now deeply embarrassed for the West. And very, very afraid.
All I see today is a submissive herd lead by true, bona fide, psychopaths (in a clinical sense of the word)
And that is not the worst thing.
The worst thing is the deafening silence, the way everybody just looks away, pretends like “ain’t my business” or, worse, actually takes all this grotesque spectacle seriously. What the fuck is wrong with you people?! Have you all been turned into zombies?! WAKE UP!!!!!!!
Let me carefully measure my words here and tell you the blunt truth.
Since the Neocon coup against Trump the West is now on exactly the same course as Nazi Germany was in, roughly, the mid 1930s.
Oh sure, the ideology is different, the designated scapegoat also. But the mindset is *exactly* the same.
Same causes produce the same effects. But this time around, there are weapons on both sides which make the Dresden Holocaust looks like a minor spark.
So now we have this touching display of “western solidarity” not with UK or the British people, but with the City of London. Now ain’t that touching?!
Let me ask you this: what has been the central feature of Britain’s policies towards Europe, oh, let’s say since the Middle-Ages?
That’s right: starting wars in Europe.
And this time around you think it’s different?
Does: “the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior” somehow not apply to the UK?!
Let me also tell you this: when Napoleon and Hitler attacked Russia she was undergoing deep crises and was objectively weak (really! research it for yourself!). In both cases Russian society was deeply torn by internal contradictions and the time for attack as ideal.
So I ask this simple question: do you really want to go to war against a fully united nuclear Russia?
You think that this is hyperbole?
The truth is that the situation today is infinitely worse than the Cuban missile crisis. First, during the Cuban missile crisis there were rational people on both side. Today there is NOT ONE SINGLE RATIONAL PERSON LEFT IN A POSITION OF POWER IN THE USA. Not ONE! Second, during the Cuban missile crisis all the new was reporting on was the crisis, the entire planet felt like we were standing at the edge of the abyss.
Today nobody seems to be aware that we are about to go to war, possibly a thermonuclear war, where casualties will be counted in the hundreds of millions.
All because of what?
Because the people of the West have accepted, or don’t even know, that they are ruled by an ugly gang of ignorant, arrogant psychopaths.
At the very least this situation shows this:
Representative democracy does not work.
The rule of law only applies to the weak and poor.
Western values have now been reduced to a sad joke.
Capitalism needs war and a world hegemony to survive.
The AngloZionist Empire is about to collapse, the only open question is how and at what cost.
Right now they are expelling Russian diplomats en masse and they are feeling very strong and manly. Polish and Ukrainian politicians are undergoing a truly historical surge in courage and self-confidence! (hiding, as they do, behind Anglo firepower)
The truth is that this is only the tip of a much bigger iceberg. In reality, crucial expert-level consultations, which are so vitally important between nuclear superpowers, have all but stopped a long time ago. We are down to top level telephone calls. That kind of stuff happens when two sides are about to go to war. For many months now Russia and NATO have made preparations for war in Europe. And Russia is ready. NATO sure ain’t! Oh, they have the numbers and they think they are strong. The truth is that these NATO midgets have no idea of what is about to hit them, when the Russians go to war these NATO statelets won’t even understand what is happening to them. Very rapidly the real action will be left to the USA and Russia. Thus any conflict will go nuclear very fast. And, for the first time in history, the USA will be hit very, very hard, not only in Europe, the Middle-East or Asia, but also on the continental US.
I was born in a Russian military family and I studied Russian and Soviet military affairs all my life. I can absolutely promise you this, please don’t doubt it for one second: Russia will not back down and, if cornered, she will wipe out your entire civilization. The Russians really don’t want war, they fear it (as they should!) and they will do everything to avoid it. But if attacked then expect a response of absolutely devastating violence. Don’t take it from me, take it from Putin who clearly said so himself and who, at least on that issue, is supported by about 95% of the population. From the Eastern Crusades to the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, enough is enough, and the Russians will not take one more western attack, especially not one backed by nuclear firepower. Again, please ponder Putin’s words very, very carefully: “what need would we have a world if there is no Russia?“
All that for what? The USA and Russia have NO objective reasons to do anything but to collaborate (the Russians are absolutely baffled the fact the leaders of the USA seem to be completely oblivious to this simple fact). Okay, the City of London does have a lot of reasons to want Russia gone and silent. As Gavin Williamson, the little soy-boy in charge of UK “defense”, so elegantly put it, Russia should “go away and shut up”. Right. Let me tell you – it ain’t happening! Britannia will be turned into a heap of radioactive ashes long before Russian goes away or shuts up. That is simply a fact.
What baffles me is this: do American leaders really want to lose their country in behalf of a small nasty clique of arrogant British pompous asses who think that they still are an Empire? Did you even take a look at Boris Johnson, Theresa May and Gavin Williamson? Are you really ready to die in defense of the interest of these degenerates?!
I don’t get it and nobody in Russia does.
Yeah, I know, all they did is expel some diplomats. And the Russians will do the same. So what? But that’s missing the point!
LOOK NOT WHERE WE ARE BUT WHERE WE ARE HEADING!!
You can get 200,000 anti–gun (sigh, rolleyes) protesters in DC but NOBODY AT ALL ABOUT NUCLEAR WAR?!
What is wrong with you people?!
What happened to the West where I was born in in 1963?
My God, is this really the end of it all?
Am I the only one who sees this slow-motion train-wreck taking us all over the precipice?
If you can, please give a reason to still hope.
Right now I don’t see many.
Before discussing the decision of the Western powers to expel Russian diplomats, it is necessary re-emphasise the total lack of logic behind the decision.
Though the decision is being presented in the media as an expulsion of “Russian spies”, it is also being linked to the Skripal case.
The Skripal case however is still ongoing. The British police investigation is still underway. No suspect has been named and all the indications are that the British police still do not know how Sergey and Yulia Skripal were poisoned or who poisoned them.
The OPCW has only recently become involved in the case, and only because the Russians insisted on it.
The OPCW has not yet identified the chemical which was used to poison Sergey and Yulia Skripal. Supposedly identification by the OPCW of the chemical is weeks away.
Meanwhile people like Craig Murray and John Helmer have pointed out that evidence submitted by the British authorities to the High Court suggests that the identification by Porton Down scientists of the chemical used to poison Sergey and Yulia Skripal as a Novichok may not be as conclusive as the British authorities have been leading everybody to believe.
That is hardly surprising since it is difficult to see how the Porton Down scientists would only need days to identify a chemical agent as a Novichok when that will take the OPCW’s experts several weeks.
For the record, I personally think the chemical used in the attack on Sergey and Yulia Skripal probably was a Novichok.
However I cannot personally see how that is conclusive of anything given that there is now abundant evidence that Novichok agents have been produced in at least test quantities in any number of countries, including the US and Britain, and not just in Russia.
As many have pointed out, saying that because Sergey and Yulia Skripal were poisoned with a Novichok means that Russia must have been involved in the attack on them is rather like saying that because Kim Jong-un’s brother Kim Jong-am was poisoned with VX – a chemical agent developed by Britain – that means that Britain must have been involved in the attack on him.
As for Russia’s motive in seeking to murder Sergey Skripal, no-one has come up with any motive that looks to me in the least convincing. Some of the motives suggested – eg. that Russia wanted to send a signal to Britain by poisoning Skripal with a deadly chemical or that Skripal was poisoned in order to deter other defectors – look to me frankly speculative and rather like conspiracy theories.
Nothing perhaps illustrates the chaos and muddle of this affair then a story which was given widespread coverage in the British media over the weekend.
This claimed that Sergey Skripal had supposedly written a letter to President Putin asking for a pardon and permission to return to Russia.
The story disintegrated after the Kremlin denied ever receiving such a letter.
In reality the story was obvious nonsense. Skripal had already been pardoned by President Medvedev before he came to Britain and since he was still a Russian citizen he was free to return to Russia whenever he wanted.
Not only is the Skripal case still ongoing, and the case against Russia far from made, but Britain, the EU and Western government even admit as much.
Though in her statement to the House of Commons of 14th March 2018 British Prime Minister Theresa May said that the British government deemed the Russian state ‘culpable’ for the attack on Sergey and Yulia Skripal, that claim since then has been retracted.
Western governments, including the US, the EU and the British government, now say no more than that Russia is “highly likely” to have carried out the attack on Sergey and Yulia Skripal.
As I have previously pointed out, that comes nowhere close to meeting the standard of proof used in Britain in criminal cases, which is “beyond reasonable doubt”.
Yet notwithstanding all this, and notwithstanding that the investigation into the case is still going on, that the case against Russia is far from made out, and that the US, the EU and the British government admit as much, the US and a score of other Western countries have now joined Britain in expelling Russian diplomats.
The logic of this escapes me, unless it is intended – as I have said previously – to be a message to the British investigators and to the OPCW that any finding other than one which can be spun into saying that Russia is responsible for the attack on Sergey and Yulia Skripal will not be tolerated.
What then of the expulsions themselves?
The expulsions of Russian diplomats which have take place in Europe and in a number of other non-European and non-EU Western countries like Australia, Canada and Norway, have about them a token quality.
None of the countries has expelled more than four diplomats, a level of expulsions which is not going to effect the operation of any of Russian embassy in any serious way.
Not only were the expulsions in Europe of a token character, but it seems that no European country is capping the number of diplomats the Russians can post to their embassies.
That means that after a decent interval the Russians will be able to replace all the diplomats who have been expelled. The small number of diplomats who have been expelled means that the Russians will have no difficulty doing this.
Even this level of token expulsions was too much for some countries. Austria, Belgium, Greece, Bulgaria, Portugal, Slovakia and Cyprus failed to announce expulsions, as have all the former Yugoslav republics apart from Croatia.
Some countries, notably Austria and Bulgaria, have made known their disagreement with the expulsions.
Turkey – still despite everything a member of the NATO alliance – has made its disagreement clear also.
Even within some of the countries which have expelled Russian diplomats, the decision to do so has been controversial.
In Italy Matteo Salvini – the man most likely to become Italy’s next Prime Minister following the recent election – has made clear his strong disagreement with the expulsions known. According to Reuters Salvini has tweeted the following :
“Boycotting Russia, renewing sanctions and expelling diplomats does not resolve problems, it aggravates them.”
The expulsions of Russian diplomats in Europe have not just been token affairs.
They have also highlighted the growing division within the EU about policy towards Russia. In Italy as Salvini’s comments show they may have even hardened feeling against the EU’s anti-Russian sanctions policy.
It is doubtless alarm about this growing division within the EU over policy towards Russia which explains the recent call from Germany for the abolition of national vetoes in EU Council decisions on foreign policy.
Why then if the expulsions were of a token character did they happen at all?
For an answer to that one must look to the completely different reaction in the US.
Here the expulsions of Russian diplomats is far from token. Not only have 60 diplomats been expelled – as many as all the other expulsions (including the British expulsion) put together – but in what may be an illegal move 12 Russian diplomats are being expelled from Russia’s UN mission even though these diplomats are accredited to the United Nations and not to the US.
Why this disproportionately large number of expulsions in the US, which is so much greater than that any of the expulsions carried out by the US’s allies?
There are various theories about this, including one which I consider farfetched, which is that the expulsions were supposedly forced on President Trump by his advisers as some sort of ‘punishment’ for his decision to ignore General McMaster’s advice not to telephone President Putin to congratulate him on his election victory.
In my opinion there is a far more likely explanation, which is that the expulsion is belated US reaction to Russia’s gigantic purge of US diplomats and staff from the US embassy and consulates in Russia last summer.
This purge attracted extraordinarily little attention, even though it was by far the biggest single expulsion of diplomats and embassy and consular staff to have happened in modern history. Here is what I wrote about it at the time :
“The Russians order to the US to reduce the staff at their embassy and consulates in Russia by 755 persons is in fact unprecedented. As the BBC rightly says, though a large part of the reduction will no doubt be accounted for by non-diplomatic staff, the Russian announcement still constitutes what is by far the single biggest expulsion of diplomats in modern history
The decision to expel staff was made on Friday, but Mr Putin has now confirmed the number who must go by 1 September.
It brings staff levels to 455, the same as Russia’s complement in Washington.
This is thought to be the largest expulsion of diplomats from any country in modern history, says the BBC’s Laura Bicker in Washington.
The number includes Russian employees of the US diplomatic missions across Russia, the BBC’s Sarah Rainsford in Moscow adds.
Staff in the embassy in Moscow as well as the consulates in Ekaterinburg, Vladivostok and St Petersburg are affected, she says.
Moreover the Russian decision now establishes the principle that the number of personnel at US embassies and consulates in Russia will in future be held to the same level – currently 455 – as the number of personnel at Russian embassies and consulates in the US.
That means that any future expulsions of Russian diplomats in the US – or any US refusal of visas to Russian diplomats to fill vacant posts at the Russian embassies and consulates in the US, as has apparently been happening – will be matched exactly equal expulsions of US diplomats from Russia, and refusals of visas to US diplomats seeking to fill vacant posts in US embassies and consulates in Russia.
That this is a heavy blow to the US is highlighted by one interesting fact. It turns out that the number of personnel working at US embassies and consulates in Russia was almost three times greater than the number of personnel working at Russian embassies and consulates in the US.
That begs the question of what all these extra US personnel were doing there? Perhaps US embassies and consulates are less efficient than Russian ones. However I suspect that the Russians believe that many if not most of these extra people were actually engaged in intelligence gathering and ‘democracy promotion’ activities.”
Many people have commented on the quiet atmosphere in which the recent Russian Presidential election was conducted. Compared to the last Presidential election in 2012 there were no significant anti-Putin protests, no violent or embarrassing incidents, and Navalny’s call for a boycott was ignored.
No one so far as I know has made the connection between the quiet atmosphere of the election and the gigantic purge of US embassy and consular staff which took place in the summer of 2017.
Nor has anyone connected the quiet atmosphere of the election to the effect of Russia’s 2012 Foreign Agent law, which requires Russian NGOs which receive foreign funding and which engage in political activities to register as foreign agents.
Perhaps there is no connection between the quiet atmosphere of the election and those two things.
However if such a connection does exist – and I suspect it does – then it is not difficult to see why Washington’s powerful ‘democracy promotion’ lobby might have found President Putin’s triumphant re-election even more infuriating than it might otherwise have been.
If so then that might explain why the US appears to have seized on the Skripal affair to carry out such a disproportionately large number of expulsions.
In that case it is at least possible that the wave of expulsions in Europe and elsewhere were coordinated by the US in order to give cover to its expulsions.
What consequences will these expulsions have?
Firstly, it is a given that the Russians will retaliate with their own expulsions. The days when the USSR failed to respond symmetrically to mass expulsions of Soviet diplomats from the West are long gone.
Other than that I doubt that there will be any significant consequences at all.
It is likely that some of the Russian diplomats who are being expelled have been engaging in intelligence work. However I suspect that the days when Soviet intelligence operations were tied to Soviet embassies ended with the Cold War.
Some Russian embassies probably still have an SVR Resident, and some Russian military attachés probably still are GRU agents.
However today it is so much easier for Russians to travel and communicate across borders than it was during the Cold War, and if only for that reason I doubt that most Russian agents are based at or communicate through Russian embassies, where they can be easily monitored by the West’s counter-intelligence agencies.
If so then the recent wave of expulsions of Russian diplomats is not going to disrupt the Russian intelligence effort significantly or even at all.
By contrast Western intelligence operations in Russia do seem still to be heavily linked to Western embassies and consulates, a fact which doubtless reflects the absence of Western visitors to Russia.
If so then reciprocal expulsions of diplomats will hurt the Western intelligence effort in Russia more than it will hurt the Russian intelligence effort in the West.
If the quiet atmosphere in which the Russian Presidential election took place is indeed, even if only in part, a product of the massive purge of US embassy and consular personnel which took place last summer, then this provides further confirmation of this.
Beyond this it is difficult to see what actually has changed.
Top level dialogue between Russia and the West continues. Save possibly in Washington, Russian diplomats will be replaced. US and Russian military officers continue to meet and talk to each other in Syria. The German government apparently remains determined to press ahead with Nord Stream 2 (Theresa May admitted to the House of Commons that Nord Stream 2 was not even discussed at the EU Council meeting last week). The only important Western government which refuses to communicate with Moscow at a top level is the British.
With so many EU countries unwilling even to expel Russian diplomats significant further EU sanctions against Russia look extremely unlikely, whilst the US has ruled out further significant sanctions of its own.
Possibly there will be more sanctions of individual Russian businessmen, companies and officials. However an EU diplomat has apparently admitted that the EU has practically exhausted the list of such individuals to sanction. Besides it’s difficult to see what those sanctions have achieved anyway.
Even in Britain – the supposed centre of this particular storm – the Conservative government remains unwilling to impose sanctions on individual Russian businessmen and companies, possibly because many of them give money to the Conservative Party.
As for talk of the world sliding into war I find that unwarranted and overdone.
The practice of treating diplomats as disposable pawns in a West versus Russia chess game began in the Cold War. For any Russian diplomat posted to the West, and for any Western diplomat posted to Russia, being expelled is an occupational hazard.
The Russians scarcely ever initiate these expulsions, but for Western leaders expelling Russian diplomats is an easy way to play tough with Moscow and to strike a Churchillian pose without taking any real risks.
That the West is choosing to respond to the Skripal case by expelling Russian diplomats is not a reason to be alarmed or to worry about war. On the contrary it is more reason not to take this ‘crisis’ entirely seriously.