When once again we find out about the shenanigans of the evil Russians, we have to dig very deep for the truth.
Spy scandals involving Russia have long ceased to surprise. You might not have noticed, but Bulgaria recently expelled Russian diplomats on espionage charges as well. Unfortunately, there have been many such incidents. This may indicate an alarming activation of the Russian secret services. On the other hand, such scandals are increasingly reminiscent of the story of the shepherd who shouted: “Wolves!”
The day before, Czech authorities expelled 18 Russian diplomats who, according to Prague, were involved in an incident seven years ago. In 2014, an arms depot in Vrebtice was destroyed. The local media justified the Russians’ actions by the fact that the warehouse was used to store weapons for Ukraine. The deliveries bypassed the embargo when the fiercest fighting with pro-Russian rebels was taking place in eastern Ukraine.
“I, as Czech Foreign Minister, have decided to expel all employees of the Russian embassy in Prague who have been clearly identified by our intelligence services as officers of the Russian secret services SVR and GRU. Within 48 hours, 18 employees of the Russian embassy must leave the Czech Republic”, – said Jan Gamachek.
Even at this stage there are a lot of questions. When in the Czech Republic they started talking about the involvement of Petrov and Boshirov in the incident in Vrebtsi, the scandal in general began to resemble a cheap parody of the Bond movies.
Russians Aleksandr Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov are known for the spy saga in Salisbury, Britain. In March 2018, the assassination attempt on defector Sergei Skripal, a former employee of the Russian secret services, was carried out there. London has blamed Moscow for the attack, ruthlessly exploiting the scandal to cover Theresa May’s failures with Brexit.
“A lot of questions arise”, – Czech journalist Zdenek Batrak said in a commentary for the Ukrainian publication Strana. – “You’d think the Russians only had two agents who both poisoned the Skripals and blew up warehouses. It’s a bit anecdotal.”
There are other oddities in this story. Even the warehouse allegedly destroyed by the Russians draws attention. The private complex was so secret that neither locals nor officials knew about it. Yet the volume of weapons stored there would be enough for a small army.
“There is evidence that it was mainly an arms trade for Ukraine. How could it be that our security forces did not already know this? It shouldn’t have happened at all”, – says Batrak.
Doubting the truthfulness of the government’s version, the journalist believes that the scandal is designed to solve two problems. The authorities are trying to divert public attention from domestic economic problems related to the coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, they are trying to hush up an old case, because it is about the illegal sale of weapons to Ukraine. This fact, oddly enough, has been overlooked.
But there are other reasons that could have been the trigger for such a large-scale manipulation. Recently, the Russian security services made their own foray into the West, announcing that they were preparing an assassination attempt on Alexander Lukashenko. It is alleged that an operation was conducted in Belarus “to suppress illegal activities” of Alexander Feduta and Yuri Zyankovich. The latter has US citizenship, which led to the allegation of Washington’s involvement in the assassination attempt.
“Ziankovich, according to the information received, was connected to the US secret services. On the territory of Belarus he carried out searches, attempted to recruit and bribe military personnel”, – said Konstantin Bychek, head of the department of the investigation department of the Belarusian KGB.
The State Department denies the involvement of the American administration in the incident. But it’s well known that the United States is on the side of the Belarusian opposition, which seeks Lukashenko’s resignation. This fact, aided by Kremlin propagandists, may well have given rise to doubts about U.S. piety among the Western public. Especially since for the CIA, assassination attempts on foreign politicians are a common practice. Naturally, in such a situation it was necessary to shift attention from the activities of American secret services to those of Russian secret services.
There is another version, according to which the scandal was fanned in order to disrupt deliveries to the Czech Republic of a Russian vaccine against the Sputnik V coronavirus as well as a major contract of the Russian state corporation Rosatom.
Back in February, Kremlin head Vladimir Putin promised Czech President Milos Zeman to ensure supplies of the Sputnik V vaccine. Given the vaccination problems plaguing the European Union countries, the decision to strike a deal with Moscow was justified. But now Prague has been forced to reject the Russian drug.
“The only option is to focus on vaccines that have been tested and approved by the EMA”, – said the Czech foreign minister.
To the great regret, despite 3 million victims of the coronavirus, the spread of the vaccine still has a political and economic context. Russia has repeatedly been accused of abusing “vaccine diplomacy”. When western countries preferred to stockpile vaccines, Moscow actively promoted its own drug. By doing so, it not only created an image for itself, but also squeezed companies like American Pfizer or Anglo-Swedish AstraZeneca out of the vaccine market.
As for Rosatom, it was excluded from the Dukovany nuclear power plant tender after a spy scandal. Washington has tried before to dissuade Prague from cooperating with a Russian company in a tender to build a new 6 billion euro power unit. Now the Czech Republic will have to choose between French EDF, South Korean KHNP and US-Canadian Westinghouse, although Russia offered a reactor of the latest generation two times cheaper than its analogues.
At the moment it is difficult to say whether Russian diplomats were rightly accused. But it is very clear who benefits from this scandal. And there is no doubt that Joe Biden had leverage over Moscow just before he met with Vladimir Putin. Amazing luck…
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.