Staunton, October 5 -- By insisting that Skripal deserved his fate rather than simply denying that Moscow had anything to do with it, Vladimir Pastukhov says, Vladimir Putin not only showed the way in which he views relations among states as the same as relations within his own country but has boxed himself into a corner from which he can escape only by a bigger war.
The London-based Russian historian argues that Putin’s new line “in essence” is taken from Wilma Kelly in the musical “Chicago” who sought to justify a double murder by insisting that “in our place you would have done what we did” ().
This position reflects Putin’s conviction that “’all intelligence services do this,’” that is, seek to kill anyone who defects to the other side, a view that has driven him to argue that the details of the case should be ignored by everyone and that the powers should settle it like “guys” in the streets of Russia, recognizing that what one does is no more than what others do.
According to Pastukhov, “this creates the impression that the Kremlin looks out at the world today as one large group of criminals” who gather together like “thieves in law (without quotation marks)” to take decisions without any concern about any morality broader than pure self-interest.
This view helps to explain, the historian continues, why the vocabulary of the Russian foreign ministry has been so enriched in recent years” with the language of the criminal world.
Putin is “profoundly convinced that this entire world is one big ‘bandit Petersburg’ and acts ways appropriate to that understanding.” What clearly infuriates him is the fact that the leaders of other countries do not share his understanding of the world and thus are not prepared to approve of what he does.
His latest words “suggest that the Kremlin is playing at ‘war’ and hasn’t noticed it has crossed ‘the red line’ that it earlier criticized the West for doing.” It is an interesting question, Pastukhov says, how Putin would react “if CIA agents decided to eliminate Snowden in Moscow with the help of a dirty bomb and contaminated two square blocks.”
Because of Putin’s understanding, his agents against Skripal “acted in England just as they have been accustomed to act in Chechnya.” And that of course raises the question of how the West reacted earlier and how it is going to react now that Putin’s vision has led him to violate the sovereignty of other countries and international law.
But the Kremlin leader’s declaration now “about the spy-scum” is as unconvincing as his earlier comments on the Skripal case, Pastukhov continues. That that means that the situation is anything but something to be laughed about and in fact is a “dead end” one that is profoundly “threatening” as far as the world is concerned.
“Russia de facto has declared war on the entire Western world and is conducting it in a way that shows it considers the territory of Europe as the battlefield,” the Russian historian says. This can’t be written off as some excess by the security services because Russia’s “political leadership” is responsible for what is taking place.
“With each new murder and with each new diversion, Putin and his entourage are driving themselves ever deeper into a corner, from which they can get out [only] by a full-scale world war,” Pastukhov concludes. “Everything that Moscow has been saying and showing in recent times would be really funny if it were not so sad.”