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    Members of the emergency services wearing protective clothing work next to a children's play area near the bench where former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found poisoned in Salisbury, Britain, March 13, 2018

    Diplomatic Row Over Skripal Western States' Multi-Layer Smoke Screen – Analyst

    © REUTERS / Henry Nicholls
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    Ekaterina Blinova
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    The expulsion of Russian diplomats serves as a smokescreen used by the Western leadership to divert public opinion from domestic problems, geopolitical analyst Gilbert Mercier told Sputnik. For his part, French journalist Karel Vereycken presumed that the West's crackdown on Russia is part of a strategy to preserve the unipolar order.

    The expulsion of Russian diplomats "works as several layers of Orwellian smoke screen," according to geopolitical analyst Gilbert Mercier, the author of "The Orwellian Empire" and editor-in-chief of News Junkie Post.

    First, it is used "to distract the West's public opinion from the Cambridge Analytica affair, which clearly shows that foreign interference on US elections actually was not Russian but came through a UK [political consulting] company financed by [US billionaire] Bob Mercer," the analyst told Sputnik.

    Second, it serves as a distraction from a series of alleged domestic scandals involving Donald Trump; third, for French President Emmanuel Macron, the Skripal case is a way to divert public opinion from growing social unrest, Mercier opined.

    In March 2018 Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie disclosed that the company had harvested tens of millions of personal profiles from Facebook and used the data for political purposes. It was reported that Cambridge Analytica and its parent company, SCL Group Limited, closely cooperated with Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.

    On March 26, government watchdog Common Cause filed a complaint with the Justice Department and the Federal Election Commission, accusing the consulting firms of violating US elections law prohibition on foreign nationals directly or indirectly participating in decision-making during the US 2014 and 2016 election processes, including the Trump campaign.

    The analyst highlighted that both Russia and China have recently come under attack from the West: while the UK and its allies are fanning the scandal over the Skripal case, Washington continues to crack down against China by imposing extra tariffs, which is largely seen by international observers as nothing short of a trade war.

    Mercier believes that Moscow and Beijing need to stand united to confront the pressure exerted by the West.

    The 2018 FIFA World Cup stand ahead of the 2017 St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF). (File)
    © Sputnik / Alexei Danichev
    The 2018 FIFA World Cup stand ahead of the 2017 St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF). (File)

    On the other hand, "it seems that the anti-Russian hysteria is getting cranked up to a maximum level right before your country hosts the biggest sporting event in the world," the geopolitical analyst noted, referring to the upcoming 2018 FIFA World Cup.

    "I would not be surprised if NATO countries such as France, Germany, the UK and others which are strong contenders in the world cup order their respective federations to boycott the event," Mercier suggested.

    While UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson stated that the British government "has no plans" to completely ban the World Cup, Iceland signaled Monday that it will boycott the event which is due to be held between June 14 and July 15 in the Russian cities of Kaliningrad, Kazan, Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Rostov-on-Don, Samara, Saransk, Sochi, St. Petersburg, Volgograd, and Yekaterinburg.

    The question then arises what the ongoing investigation into the Skripal poisoning on British soil has to do with the international football tournament.

    "They can boycott the Wold Cup politically, but not the participation of the sport teams," says Karel Vereycken, a journalist, vice-president of the French party Solidarite & Progres and former national spokesman of the 2017 Cheminade presidential campaign.

    West's Last Ditch Effort to Maintain Global Dominance

    The French journalist believes that one should take a look at the bigger picture, while assessing the hype over the Skripal poisoning.

    According to Vereycken, the ongoing diplomatic row is not particularly about disrupting the Russia-hosted World Cup event or the joint Russo-European Nord Stream 2 project, but the West's last ditch effort to maintain its global hegemony amid the emergence of the new inclusive multi-polar world led by Russia and China.

    "The declining bankrupt 'West' has to accept it lost its 500 years old position as 'rulers' of an 'Empire on which the sun never sets'," the journalist pointed out.

    The French politician underscored that "the new paradigm, represented by both Russia's and, especially, China's win-win policy of inclusive development among sovereign nations in service of a common future" pose a significant challenge to the dominance of the US and its closest allies.

    In this context it is hardly surprising that the US, Canada and the majority of EU states jumped on the UK's bandwagon, despite their differences over Brexit and numerous economic issues, and authorized the expulsion of Russian diplomats.

    He continued that "on top of it is President Vladimir Putin's March 1 announcement of Russia having developed weaponry based on 'new physical principles' which render NATO's ABM systems obsolete."

    The demonstration of Moscow's new invincible missiles "has provoked a profound and unprecedented strategic freak-out" among Western war planners, the journalist said.

    "They had made the bet that Russia wouldn't ever succeed such prowess, and Russia did," he highlighted.

    A woman walks past the Russian Embassy in London, Britain, March 19, 2018
    © REUTERS / Henry Nicholls
    A woman walks past the Russian Embassy in London, Britain, March 19, 2018

    Expulsion of Russian Diplomats: How Europe Betrays Itself

    Assessing the possible impact of the expulsion of Russian diplomats by European states Vereycken bemoaned the move as self-destructive.

    "It throws to all of us a global challenge: how come we, in the West, generation after generation, finished by accepting to be ruled by powers preparing our own destruction," he pointed out. "The answer is that we have betrayed or forgotten the cultural and scientific values which once made us great. Now the time has come for a new paradigm. That starts with a radical overhaul of the global financial system, the reconstruction of our industry and our education system. The current dynamics in Eurasia offer us the opportunity to return to reason. Let's hope they will show enough patience."

    Earlier this month, former MI6 asset Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were found unconscious on a bench in Salisbury, allegedly poisoned by the A-234 nerve agent.

    The incident prompted the British leadership to sever top-level diplomatic ties with Moscow and expel 23 Russian envoys from the country, although no evidence of Russia's involvement into the case has been made public so far. In response, Moscow booted out 23 British Embassy officials.

    In what could be called a display of solidarity, over 20 countries have deported Russian diplomats, voicing no doubt over London's controversial reasoning.

    Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Police reported that "detectives believe the Skripals first came into contact with the nerve agent at their home address": "Specialists have identified the highest concentration of the nerve agent, to-date, as being on the front door of the address."

    The investigation into the Skripal poisoning case, which is called "one of the largest and most complex investigations undertaken by British counter terrorism policing" will take "several weeks and months."

    British police reports on the case do not contain any reference to Russia as a potential culprit, raising the question how British PM May, followed by foreign leaderships, came to the conclusion that Moscow was behind the alleged chemical attack against the former spook.

    The views and opinions expressed by Gilbert Mercier, Karel Vereycken, Ekaterina Blinova are those of the contributors and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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    Tags:
    Skripal poisoning, nerve agent, 2018 FIFA World Cup, UK Metropolitan Police, Scotland Yard, FIFA, Yulia Skripal, Sergei Skripal, Vladimir Putin, China, Europe, Russia, United Kingdom
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