Russia is engaging in an aggressive disinformation war over the Skripal poisoning. It would be disastrous to respond in kind
Anyone who thought the Sergei Skripal poisoning might be a relatively short-lived international incident, after which something like pre-existing normality would reassert itself, knows differently now. It is a month since Mr Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in Salisbury by a novichok nerve agent of a type developed by Russia. A week later Theresa May told parliament that it was highly likely that the Russian state was directly or indirectly responsible. The British view was then backed by the main political parties and most of Britain’s major allies. Diplomats were expelled on both sides. But the scandal refuses to die down and the questions surrounding the Skripal case continue to proliferate.
Much but not all of this is because Russia’s response has been so determinedly aggressive, energetic and defiant. Far from hiding away until the embarrassing dust settles, Russia has decided to fight an attacking propaganda and disinformation war on all fronts. President Vladimir Putin and his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, have gone out of their way to parade a variety of grievances about the British charges, shamelessly turning Tuesday’s official UK scientific confirmation of the use of novichok into an apparent admission that the agent could not be sourced to – and thus might not be from – Russia. After the international Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons voted in the Hague by 15 to six against a Russian move for its scientists to be involved in a “joint” investigation. Russia pronounced that its move had succeeded because 17 countries had abstained. And on Thursday it was Russia, not Britain, that was due to take the matter to the United Nations security council.
Link : The Guardian view on the Skripal case: a long battle for values | Editorial