Sputnik: In your opinion, why is the UK refusing to cooperate with Russia?
Diana Johnstone: Because if they cooperate, the whole farce might be exposed. I just read an excellent article by former Ambassador Craig [Murray] in which he points out that there is no proof that this "Novichok" gas, that they are saying poisoned these people on a park bench, even exists. The name "Novichok," which they are trumping all over the place as being proof that it's the Russians, because, well, the only evidence of this is from a Russian turncoat, who was a spy for the United States. But there is no evidence, they gave no chemical evidence that this gas even exists. So when Russia says, please turn over a sample of this gas, probably they can't, because they don't have any. That is one possibility, that this gas, which supposedly was used by the Russians, is very similar to what Colin Powell was holding up in the Security Council as such a weapon that can justify the invasion of Iraq.
Sputnik: Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has called UK allegations against Russia a provocation. What are your thoughts on that?
Diana Johnstone: Provocation is a word that can mean different things. I don't know if it's a provocation, but it ranges on several levels. First of all, the Russia blame, well, not Russia but Putin in particular, of course that's a pattern now — I have friends that say "guys I've lost my car keys, it must be Putin who took them" — it's getting to be kind of a joke. Whatever goes wrong — well, it's Putin. For one thing, we don't know exactly what poisoned instance; and in fact, nobody knows exactly what this "Novichok" is.
What about motive? Everybody says "well, it only could be the Russians because of this gas, it can only be Putin" who is presented by the West essence of a comic book figure, like the latest villain that Batman is out to get. He has no motives except to do mean things, apparently. Because there is no conceivable motive for Putin at this point to get rid of retired spy, who has nothing he can do against Russia. He was a colonel, evidently, and he gave secrets away, he was convicted, he was freed, he is living in Britain now cultivating his garden and taking care of his cat. He has no secrets to give anybody.
So there is absolutely no reason to get rid of him. There are other hypotheses and nobody considers other hypotheses, they just rush to blame Putin. It could be some kind of peculiar accident. It could be something to do with Russian mafia, which is very present in Britain. And you don't know about what they could be doing. And also, frankly, it could as well be rogue agents of MI6, who would do this precisely in order to blame Putin. Because blaming Putin seems to be the order of the day. So the obvious motive is that the West is looking up every possible "casus belli" [pretext for war] against Russia. Since Russia isn't doing anything to deserve this, they make up all sorts of things that Russia is supposedly doing within their own countries — "it's spoiling our elections, it's doing this and doing that." So this is completely outrageous.
Sputnik: What is London trying to achieve by blaming Moscow?
Diana Johnstone: I think that one thing they are trying to achieve is to weaken Corbyn, the head of the Labour party, because he is very popular. He threatens their rule. He is a sensible, consistent peace candidate. He is happily skeptical of this story. I think there are domestic political reasons; it may be high on the list. And of course there is a basic motive that is behind the whole Western campaign and that is to build up public opinion to spend public money on military equipment. It's so absurd — somebody is poisoned, supposedly, in Salisbury and they are calling out the navy… it's ridiculous. But of course they want to say "we need the navy, we need more ships, we need more planes, we need more this and that," because the whole Russian scare serves the military industrial complex, not only in the United States, but also in the UK. You need a scare in order to convince the people to spend money not on healthcare, education, but on more weapons.
The views and opinions expressed by Diana Johnstone are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.