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    Officials are helped out to take off their protective suits after repositioning the forensic tent, covering the bench where Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found, in the centre of Salisbury, Britain, March 8, 2018

    UK 'Determined to Prove Russia Guilty Without Providing Any Proof' – Analyst

    © REUTERS / Peter Nicholls
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    Russian has called on the UK to abide by the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and provide Moscow with access to the samples of the nerve agent used in the poisoning of ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal. Sputnik discussed this with Alexander Mercouris, editor in chief of The Duran.

    Sputnik: Why has the British Prime Minister accused Russia despite not having any evidence?

    Alexander Mercouris: What has happened is that the British government has rushed off this statement demanding that the Russians essentially prove their innocence by close of business today so that she can declare them guilty when they haven't [done anything], and it's, of course, absolute nonsense, because you cannot place a finding of guilt on the other side's inability to produce proof of innocence; it totally reverses the burden of proof. What it shows is that the British government is determined to declare Russia guilty where there's no real evidence that Russia actually is guilty so rather than produce any evidence showing that Russia is guilty they've come up with this extraordinary ultimatum so that they feel that they can say it.

    Sputnik: They've asked for this evidence of innocence and yet they have refused to grant Russia access to the case; do you think that that was something that they should've done?

    Alexander Mercouris: It's obvious that what the Russians are saying makes sense; there has to be a proper investigation in which all the people involved have to be given an opportunity to look at this. The country accused has to be shown the evidence upon which the accusation is based so that it can refute it; it is a simple principle. The British government has referred to the Organization for Prevention of Chemical Weapons, why not suggest to the organization that it carry out the investigation into this chemical attack and invite experts from around the world, not just Russia, not just Britain but all sorts of places, and they can come to a view, but the British government is refusing to that thing.

    Police officers continue to guard the scene where a forensic tent, covering the bench where Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found, has been erected in the centre of Salisbury, Britain, March 9, 2018
    © REUTERS / Peter Nicholls
    Police officers continue to guard the scene where a forensic tent, covering the bench where Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found, has been erected in the centre of Salisbury, Britain, March 9, 2018

    Sputnik: I believe that Theresa May in speaking has said that there've been international experts who have studied these samples and made the determination that they are consistent with chemical substances that were at some point manufactured in Russia…

    Alexander Mercouris: First of all, we don't know who these international experts are, and secondly, those experts were not consulted as part of an international investigation, The problem with that is that we don't know who these international experts are and, secondly, those experts were not consulted as part of an international investigation, they we consulted as part of a British investigation in which the British are trying to make up for their lack of evidence of Russian state involvement by declaring ultimatums. If there is evidence like that, which is convincing, it should be produced. I must make a further point, which is that of course, chemical weapons can be produced in all sorts of places, the chemical weapons programs that Theresa May was referring to; its production facility was not in Russia actually, it was in Uzbekistan, apparently. The Russians are not the only people who have the knowledge to produce chemical weapons of the family that Theresa May was referring to, but what is the other evidence that points to Russia? We haven't seen it.

    READ MORE: MI5 Ex-Officer on Skripal Case: Media Has Run Whole 'Russians Did it' From Start

    Sputnik: What is this going to do to diplomatic ties between Russia and the UK? And also there's been talk that if this ultimatum is not met there will be very serious repercussions, what can we expect to see in the way of sanctions or action against Russia?

    Alexander Mercouris: There's been lots of talk in the British media about restrictions being placed on Russians bringing money into Britain and having their assets seized; why that should be a matter of concern to the Russian government, which has been trying to persuade wealthy Russians to repatriate their money to Russia; it is difficult to see. Apart from that, there's been talk about not sending diplomats and officials to the (FIFA) World Cup in Russia. Again, why that should concern Russia unduly again I cannot see. There's going to be the talk of expulsions of Russian diplomats from Britain, which will, of course, lead to reciprocal expulsions of British diplomats from Russia. The result will be that the British will have less contact with Russia, and, given that Russia is far more powerful a country than Britain is, the people who will lose out from that will be the British, not the Russians, so it is very difficult to see any group of sanctions the British can impose which will not injure them more than they injure the Russians, if they injure the Russians at all. The British are not telling us very much and the fact that they are not telling us very much suggests that they have very little evidence, actually, apart from the fact that this chemical, they say, and I stress at the moment we can only say 'they say', is a chemical that was developed in the former Soviet Union back in the 1970's and 1980's; that appears to be the sum total of the evidence at the moment.

    Sputnik: Theresa May's accusations according to some experts are due to the pressure that she faces at home, do you agree with that?

    Alexander Mercouris: I think that may be true. The problem is that Theresa May is very weak Prime Minister, she's in a very weak position, she did very badly in the general election last year and she has little authority either in her party or in the country. Unfortunately, she's not in any position to resist pressure, even to take steps that will worsen relations between Russia and Britain.

    The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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    poisoning, Sergei Skripal, Theresa May, United Kingdom, Russia
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