Monday, July 16, 2007

Alexander Litveninko Murder, Russian Diplomats Expelled.

Given the substance that was used to murder Alexander Litvinenko, it looks almost certain that the Russian government was at the very least complicit in the crime, although the Daily Telegraph might be blaming Conrad Black, and from an ethical point of view the expulsion of 4 Russian diplomats is certainly justified. That doesn't mean that it is a good idea though, I've been saying for several months that the Russian government seems intent on creating a siege mentality* to justify further erosions of liberty at home. In theory Vladimir Putin has to stand down at the end of next year, a looming foreign policy crisis could be enough to provide a pretext to extend Putin's time in office. Obviously Litvinenko cannot simply been forgotten but it would seem prudent to pursue the suspects without giving Putin an excuse to whine about being victimised,

* For instance the Estonian statue furore, or the missile defence row or the disruption of gas exports etc.


Elliott said...

Hi Ross,

I'd disagree about the "siege mentality" - Putin is already wildly popular in Russia and, if he wished, could easily have the constitution changed to allow himself to serve another term (not an unusual move in countries with systems of government as young / fragile as Russia's). I'd say he was asserting what he thinks of as the Russian sphere of influence.

I'm grateful to John Redwood for blogging that Miliband couldn't even explain to the House which diplomats were to be expelled - as Redwood suggested, his civil servants probably suggested the move and he probably just said, "yes".

All in all I think Miliband's intervention was, at best, precipitate, and at worst hypocritical, hysterical and inimical to British interests. Have blogged as much back on the ranch ..

Ross F said...

Welcome back.

Britain does have interests in Russia that we don't want to endanger, however the smuggling of radioactive material int Britain in order to murder a British citizen, probably at the behest of elements within the Russian government, is a major breach in itself. Protecting British citizens in Britain from foreign attack is the one core responsibility of the government. As I said in my post I'm not sure that this is the correct response, but no response to Russia's actions would not be right either.

I take your point about Miliband not appearing to understand precisely whom he was expelling.