Some Further Thoughts on the Skripal Affair

Barrister at Law James O’Neill offers some thoughts on the Skripal case and the recent judgement by Mr Justice Williams in the High Court

another restaurant photo of Sergey and Yulia Skripal

Let the jury consider the verdict” the King said. “No, No” said the Queen: “sentence first, verdict afterwards”. “Stuff and nonsense” said Alice.

The furore surrounding the alleged nerve gas poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia shows no signs of abating. It continuously puts one in mind of the quote from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland at the head of this article.
For those of us with fond of memories of some of the traditional virtues of common-law justice, such as the presumption of innocence, the onus of proof upon the accuser, a verdict based upon evidence beyond reasonable doubt, and a prohibition on prejudicial pre-trial comment, it all seems like a very distant past.
The latest development has been a group of nations, largely in the European Union, but also including United States, Canada, Australia and European minnows like Albania and Macedonia, joining the collective hysteria and expelling, at the time of writing, more than 100 Russian diplomats.
That action will achieve nothing, other than to the poison the cold war atmosphere eagerly promoted by the intellectual lightweights so prominent in the governments from United Kingdom to the United States to Australia. The few sane voices in this cacophony of nonsense, such as those of the governments of Portugal, Greece and Austria, or Die Linke’s Andreas Maurer in Germany who noted in various ways that not jumping to conclusions and actually waiting for the results of the now extant OPCW’s Technical Committee investigation, might be preferable to rushing headlong to a possible nuclear confrontation with Russia, are scarcely heard.
British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn made similar remarks, only to be savagely attacked by members of his own party, as well as Tory leaders such as May, Johnson and Williamson.
The careful and cautiously worded judgement of Mr Justice Williams released on 22 March 2018 has been largely ignored by the politicians and the mainstream media alike.
Justice Williams was delivering the judgement on an application by the Secretary of State for the Home Department for permission to be given for the taking of blood samples from the Skripals for analysis by the OPCW experts in accordance with the terms of the Convention on the Prevention of Chemical Weapons.
The Skripals were admitted to Salisbury Hospital on 4 March 2018 and it took until 14 March for the British government to invite the OPC W to assist in the technical evaluation of what had caused the Skripal’s illness.
The Judge did not comment on why it took 10 days for this invitation to issue, particularly as the Russian government had correctly pointed out that it should have been done much earlier in accordance with the article 9 of the Convention.
Indeed, May had issued peremptory demands for Russia to, in effect, prove its innocence within 36 hours. The application by the Home Department was necessary as the Skripals, because of their stated medical condition (in a coma, but stable) were unable to give an informed consent. The Judge presumed, probably correctly, if they were able to give consent they would do so. They have a greater interest than anyone else in determining who was responsible and holding them (or their government) to account.
The Russian government, which clearly was an interested party as among other reasons Ms Skripal was a Russian citizen, was not a party to the proceedings, nor, it seems, were they even advised that the application was being made. The Russian government have certainly stated that, and the British government has made no denial.
The absence of the Russians from the application would ordinarily have invited a query from the Judge. He may well have done so, but as the proceedings were held in camera, we cannot establish that. His Honour appears to have accepted a submission from Mr Sachdeva QC, acting for the Skripals, that the Russian authorities had made no attempt to seek access to the Skripals or their medical records.
This is prima facie highly improbable, particularly given the case’s high profile. The Russian government to the contrary has claimed that all their requests for access, medical details and related evidence were ignored or refused by the British government.
It is not possible to definitively resolve that conflict, but the weight of logic, common sense and the evidence we do have would tend to support the Russian position.
There is no reason at this point to question the integrity of the OCPW technical evaluation. It seems likely however, that they may well not be able to ascertain precisely what substance was used to affect the Skripals. Almost certainly, neither will they be able to specify its precise origins, much less who administered it. More than three weeks after the attack we still have no clear idea as to how the poison, if that is indeed what it is, was administered.
That qualified conclusion, which is surely known to the British government, may be a major reason why such a huge propaganda effort is currently being made before the likely inconclusive results are published. It may also account for the meaningless terminology used in statements by the UK government and others that the poison was “of a type developed by Russia.”
That statement in itself is inaccurate. It has zero evidential value, but is clearly seen as having a powerful propaganda effect. Most casual readers of the mainstream media or viewers of the BBC and their foreign equivalents will be unaware of any of the history of nerve agents, or their possession and use by multiple countries, not least the United Kingdom itself.
Perhaps the most depressing conclusion to be drawn from this saga is the one expressed by the commentator known as the Saker (What Happened to the West I was born in? 26 March 2018). He argues that during the previous Cold War, although the West was hardly a knight in shining armour, the rule of law did matter, as did some degree of critical thinking. Now, the West is ruled by an “ugly gang of ignorant, arrogant psychopaths”.
Their hubris will lead to making fatal miscalculations about the degree of Russian resolve, and the ability of Russia, (as was demonstrated so effectively by Putin in his address to the joint sitting of the Russian Parliament on 1 March 2018), that rather than “shutting up and going away”, as Williamson hoped, the simple fact is that Britain will be a heap of radioactive ashes long before Russia “goes away”.
It is significant that China’s Global Times, an official voice for the thinking of the Chinese government, sees the current attack on Russia as a prelude to a similar assault upon China as the crumbling Anglo-American Empire tries to maintain its hegemony. China has not joined the Western chorus of condemnation of Russia. Instead it sees what it describes as the “Russia China comprehensive strategic collaborative partnership” as the best safeguard against Western attack. It is for this reason that the Saker is probably too pessimistic. For the sake of our grandchildren one hopes that he was indeed wrong.

James O’Neill is a Barrister at Law and geopolitical analyst. He may be contacted at joneill@qldbar.asn.au

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Basil P Jones
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Basil P Jones

I think some years into the future a retired British Intelligence Officer struck with remorse and guilt in his old age is going to write a memoir that would reveal that the entire ‘Skripal poisoning affair’ was a creation of the hawks in the Conservative Government of Theresa May to force the unrelenting Brexit negotiators of the European Union to soften their stand and allow favourable and easy terms for the embattled Prime Minister whose survival both in the politics of the nation as well as in her own party hinged on how and with what the separation settlements are… Read more »

Michele Cochrane
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Michele Cochrane

‘Sometime into the future.’ ? Let’s hope we are alive to read about it. I disagree that the British have played their cards well; Quite the contrary in fact. O’Neill has argued his case, here and elsewhere, very well. I’ll leave it to him.

Billy Bostickson
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Billy Bostickson

Talking of identification, here’s a nice little puzzle for Brother Cadfael or even Watson: I have been trying to identify the boyfriend and parents again after the information published in mk.ru by Lev Speransky and Ekaterina Sveshnikova (http://www.mk.ru/politics/2018/03/25/otravlenie-sergeya-skripalya-my-nashli-strannogo-boyfrenda-yulii.html) made me doubt my original identification. I identified a new person but would like someone else to have a go and see who they come up with. Here are the clues: The article states that they use a pseudonym for the boyfriend, “Stanislav”, although they know his name. Who is Stas? He is an economist by training, graduate of the State University… Read more »

Billy Bostickson
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Billy Bostickson

Thanks to John Helmer in Moscow for having the courage to report this (I asked him to help): The British public telephone is two years short of a century old. The Salisbury Hospital has dismantled the outdoor models because it is now possible for patients to receive and make telephone calls from their bedside. The hospital has contracted with a company called Hospedia to provide patients with personal access to telephones (television, internet, games too). The patients must pay. The business of overcharging them for incoming and outgoing calls was such a corrupt scandal, Hospedia’s predecessor company went bankrupt. The… Read more »

theroyalsecretinfo
Reader

I am ashamed to be English as a result of the Skripal affair regardless of whom may have been responsible. The whole basis of Western law that one is innocent until proved guilty has not been given the slightest chance. One can only conclude as a result that the incident was contrived to throw suspicion on Rushas spiessia and President Putin as a pariah at a critical moment before his re-election and the hosting of the World Cup. Those who are gullible enough to swallow the obvious hypocrisy of the British Government’s cover up should understand that the US has… Read more »

John Marks
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John Marks

As an expat in Vienna, I’m proud my adopted country has refused to be taken in by May’s and the EU’s lynch mob. We may think Russia had abandoned the fraternal ideas of its revolution and long gone sour. But we have forgotten the ideal of our own enlightenment revolutions of 1688 and 1789. Arguably, Putin is trying to reverse the social decline to the level of ‘money is everything’ that pervades the EU and USA. We should remember Robert Burns: “But ye whom social pleasure charms Whose hearts the tide of kindness warms, Who hold your being on the… Read more »

bevin
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bevin
Mikalina
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Mikalina

No economic measures? The ‘slight of hand’ passing of the Magnitsky Act which presumably safeguards the 60 billion stolen from Russia. ‘Brexit’ is a manufactured circus designed to rejig laws in favour of the cabal. It will be revoked as soon as it has served its purpose. Macron and the Irish PM did as they were told by the eminence grises who put them into those positions. (Perhaps Macron was threatened with the action being taken about someone else who seems to be not playing the game, Sarkozy.) Putin not bothered about SWIFT system as Russia/China have developed one of… Read more »

Billy Bostickson
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Billy Bostickson

Please stop polluting this forum with your nonsensical comments about “manufactured circuses” and “Israeli gas chambers”. You are merely generating more toxic Information pollution which, as you are well aware, leads only to analysis paralysis and cognitive dissonance.
Please stop being a bystander and pay attention to the forum topic before posting your bizarre paranoid delusions!

Francis Lee
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Francis Lee

The fact that the ‘official left’ and its globalist flagship propaganda outlets, The Guardian, New York Times and Washington Post, have been signed up to the Anglo-Zionist hegemonic war project should hardly be considered news. The fact was that these ‘progressives’ always were pillars of an imperial order traceable back to 1945 at least. To digress slightly, in terms of political delegation it was once the practice during the Nazi ascendancy in Europe that the day-to-day running of the concentration camps was delegated down to a class of trustees. ”According to Wikileaks A kapo or prisoner functionary (German: Funktionshäftling, see… Read more »

mog
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mog

Fascinating quote from Orwell.
There can be no real reconstruction that would not lead to at least a temporary drop in the English standard of life
is so much more true now than when he wrote that.

bevin
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bevin

It depends what is meant by the “English standard of life.” If you or Orwell mean ‘the way that I live and the comfortable classes including politicians of all sorts live.’ Then you are telling us nothing more than that disruptions, from revolutions to new tax bills, disrupt and change things. But for many English people, in 1939 as well as today, there is little benefit, if any, from imperialism. To the millions living on the brink of homelessness, pauperism, ill health, malnutrition and other forms off insecurity change could hardly make things worse. For most people suffering from capitalism… Read more »

John O'Donnell, Brisbane
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John O'Donnell, Brisbane

There are many things wrong with the UK governments account of this story.
Here are only three.
1) If Russia (or any other intelligence service) wanted to kill someone, I am pretty sure they would be very dead very quickly.
2) With a world cup coming up, the last thing that Russia wants is any political controversy. Apparently, the ex spy has been retired and living openly for many years. Why not wait until after the World Cup to do something.
3) Why use a nerve gas and draw attention when a bullet is easier, cheaper and less hassle?

theroyalsecretinfo
Reader

You should have added – and the re-election of Putin – which occurred last week. As far as trying to convince Russians to get rid of Putin it has certainly backfired in a big way. They tend to believe their Presidents and stand behind him against such blatant Western hypocrisy.

candideschmyles
Reader

The deep state actors from both sides of the Atlantic very obviously knew of and ordered the Skripal false flag. The appointment to the diplomatic battlefront of Hayley and now Bolton in the US and useful idiots like Macron and Johnson in Europe is testament to a preplanned change to highly aggressive global rhetoric that has always preceded major armed conflict. Trumps role is simply to confuse the issue and draw attention, and every populist utterance of his is part of the confusion. He is 100% puppet. The true hallmark of any major false flag since about the time Dulles… Read more »

theroyalsecretinfo
Reader

All Presidents since Kennedy have been Deep State adherents, and Kennedy’s vow to rid the Deep State sounded his death knell. Trump’s win and offer of friendship to Russia upset the cosy Deep State military/industrial alliance and so the CIA dossier was drawn up to smear him with accusations of treachery. It is a moot point that Trump may have become an unwitting pawn since the recent appointment of various generals and ex CIA men to replace his own pals or whether he has realised that to save his Presidency and possibly his own life he need follow their dictate.… Read more »

Mikalina
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Mikalina

“The true hallmark of any major false flag since about the time Dulles headed the CIA, to the extent it’s a thing of pride to the planners, is to have multiple advantages in the greater plan. ” I think the Fusion Document is a major ‘advantage’, of the Skripal debacle, for the cabal. It lays out quite clearly the actions it is taking/will take towards alternative news sites and ANYONE who disagrees in any way with the ‘official’ line. It widens its agents’ actions to all departments of the government – including health and benefits. Will we be refused help… Read more »

intergenerationaltrauma
Reader

candideschmyles – excellent post.

Robbobbobin
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Robbobbobin

I’ve heard that the OPCW report has been delayed by the hangover some of the investigating team had after something was slipped into their drinks at Hans Blix’s 115th birthday party.

JudyJ
Reader

I find it extremely frustrating to have to listen to, or read, our ‘representatives’, whether it be politicians or journalists, stating definitively – and purportedly on our behalf – that it’s obvious to EVERYONE that the Russians are guilty. In broadcast discussions there is rarely a dissenting voice and the occasional one that slips through is treated like the village idiot or a pariah for daring to suggest that one should base accusations on evidence. My question is does anyone have any bright ideas as to how we, the man/woman on the street, can have any influence in getting across… Read more »

candideschmyles
Reader

Maybe we need to do it the old way. Go back to pamphleting. Most have a printer or can afford one. Print cogent arguments off and leave them on buses, trains etc like the Metro. Hand them out in the street. If 100s of us were doing so we could reach 100s of 1000s.

JudyJ
Reader

Good idea – well worth considering. I am getting on in years and find I am becoming less inhibited and more cynical as each year passes so I will give this serious thought. I’ve little to lose and more to gain, if only to enable me to say that at least I tried.

duplicitousdemocracy
Reader

It’s like living in a parallel universe. I try to explain to my colleagues, friends and family that the government claims are outrageous. Within days, they knew what it was, who it was and where it came from. Not allegations or accusations, they knew! The government eventually invite (albeit 10 days later) an organisation that previously oversaw the destruction of the ‘suspects’ chemical weapons. Even more puzzling is why they bothered to invite the OPCW in at all. May and Johnson have declared who it was and punished them already. It takes longer to take a drink driver to court.… Read more »

JudyJ
Reader

@duplicitousdemocracy – I mentioned in my last post that ‘someone’ had referred to the OPCW’s contribution to the Khan Sheikhoun investigation. On scrolling through comments I see it was you so you clearly don’t need to be reminded of their duplicitous activities by me!

JudyJ
Reader

With regard to the OPCW I think May reluctantly brought them in because to not do so would have appeared a little bit too suspicious, even to our ‘allies’. But I am under no illusion that they will come up with any conclusions that contradict the UK Govt’s allegations. As someone reminded us elsewhere on this website, they were more than happy to pass judgement on the Khan Sheikhoun chemical attack based on samples ‘collected’ by the White Helmets and transported by militants for analysis in Turkey; the OPCW presumably regarded that as processing samples under fully controlled conditions. Their… Read more »

archie1954
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archie1954

I agree wholeheartedly with you.

milosevic
Reader
milosevic

I find it extremely frustrating to have to listen to, or read, our ‘representatives’, whether it be politicians or journalists, stating definitively – and purportedly on our behalf – that it’s obvious to EVERYONE that the Russians are guilty. It’s your job to prove them wrong, as loudly as possible. HOWEVER — does anyone have any bright ideas as to how we, the man/woman on the street, can have any influence in getting across to our ‘leaders’ that they don’t speak for us? They already know that, and have for a long time. They wouldn’t be in the position they… Read more »

Harry Stotle
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Harry Stotle

So half of Europe is willing to bring about nuclear armageddon on the basis of lies told by an old Etonian?
I just hope the first hit is on Guardian towers – according to Natalie Nougayrède magic pixie dust has turned an entire continent against t’evil Tzars.
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/mar/27/russia-novichok-europe-brexit-britain-eu

Mark Gobell
Reader
Mark Gobell

That is one of the planned outcomes of the Sergei Skripal fraud.
The erstwhile antagonists, the EU and the UK are now united behind a common enemy.
MG

jantje
Reader
jantje

I wonder if this whole affair is not geared against implementing brexit,stay strong against a common enemy etc.

Betrayed planet.
Reader
Betrayed planet.

It’s frankly astonishing, I can barely believe the arrogance and downright ignorance of these awful people. They are the very antithesis of anything good or nurturing. How there are not people marching in the streets over this beggars bloody belief.

milosevic
Reader
milosevic

— because, at least in the US and the UK, it’s the alleged “left” that’s LEADING the charge for anti-Russia hysteria, and the invasion of Syria.
One might infer, if it wasn’t already sufficiently obvious long ago, that in western countries, most of what purports to be the “left”, is in fact a highly sophisticated ruling-class psychological-warfare campaign. They’ve spent decades building it up, and training its personnel, and are now, since 9/11/2001, cashing it in for maximum profit.
Noam Chomsky and the Guardian being paradigmatic examples.

Michael McNulty
Reader
Michael McNulty

It seems Britain has reached the stage where evidence is rather…”quaint”. It’s another step towards fascism but this time it’s not a tip-toe but a jackbooted goose-step – much further along.

BigB
Reader

James makes some good points: but in among them he claims “British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn made similar remarks” (to the “few sane voices”) – did he? I was only aware that he asked Treason May to differentiate between Option 1 – Russia did it: or Option 2 – Russia did it. A fact he took out an article in the Guardian to reiterate. A position he has gone on to consilidate into “We can therefore draw no other conclusion than that Russia has a direct or indirect responsibility for this.” So no proof required: it was Russia …so sayeth… Read more »

mog
Reader
mog

This has been the most significant aspect of this whole affair for me.

Big B
Reader
Big B

That, and the Fusion Doctrine. As a Privy Councillor, no doubt JC knew that was coming? If not, he did a pretty good job of abstractly calling for it?

milosevic
Reader
milosevic

I hope you continue pointing out this kind of thing. It’s important for everybody who’s paying attention and relatively sane to know what the Fake Left was doing and saying when it really mattered.
Much like the 9/11 scam, of course. With that well-established precedent, why would we expect anything different in any other case? As is ever more clear, that is THE litmus test that differentiates the real left-wing opposition from the “left”-flavoured ruling class social-control apparatus: identity politics, Noam Chomsky, the Guardian, social democracy, “humanitarian” NGOs, most of the “alternative” media, etc.

kate
Reader
kate

My opinion is that the Skripal false flag was planned because of the launch of the petroyuan on March 26th 2018 which has the potential to undermune the dollar as the world oil trading currency
https://www.rt.com/business/422561-petroyuan-gold-biggest-change-markets/
http://www.golemxiv.co.uk/2017/10/chinas-rise-americas-fall/

summitflyer
Reader
summitflyer

All planned of course .With the help of their intelligence agencies .The same game they played with the MH 17.
Point the finger before any evidence ,repeat very often ,get the NATO countries on side as much as possible ,keep pointing the finger ,then let the whole matter die down and people will forget the inconsistencies but remember of course that Russia is to blame . Are there better words than to call them weasels and liars .

JudyJ
Reader

Worms and snakes?

FS
Reader
FS

Yes, criminals and psychopaths

intergenerationaltrauma
Reader

Based upon the current “evidence” and “who benefits” logic, this is my top 10 list of suspects who may have done the poisoning:
The CIA; Mossad; NATO (operation gladio team; MI6; hired corporate contract ex-inelligence thugs; Mickey Mouse; Elton John; Donald Duck; the Three Stooges; or Russia – in that order.

Deb
Reader
Deb

You forgot Colonel Mustard.

milosevic
Reader
milosevic

CIA / Mossad / NATO / Operation Gladio / MI6 / hired corporate contract ex-intelligence thugs
Are you sure that these are actually distinct entities, or rather, just different manifestations of a single underlying phenomenon?
http://www.serendipity.li/wot/kolskegg03.htm

intergenerationaltrauma
Reader

Milosevic – good point.

always write
Reader
always write

what the Russian government should do is go after one of the big so called “news” papers and take them to court, can anyone remember the case of Christopher Jefferies, the press of course went off on one about poor Mr Jefferies, and now they’re are doing exactly the same over this so called chemical weapons attack
take the bastards to court i say, starting with the Guardian, or possibly the BBC

JudyJ
Reader

And there was Robert Murat who was a suspect (guilty in the eyes of the Press and possibly the investigators) in the Madeleine McCann case. I see that he featured in a newspaper article only last year describing how the accusations “destroyed his life and that of his family”.

always write
Reader
always write

…yup, however these alligations against Russia could destroy the world, unfortunately the idiots in Fleet Street don’t seem to think this could happen

R.M. Nugent
Reader
R.M. Nugent

In Canada the entire Parliament approved to expulsion of Russian diplomats. Even the so called left party, the New Democrats, didn’t say a word, nor have I heard from the Greens on it. The fact it got to Parliament speaks volumes about Trudeau… he is clearly not the man his father was.

archie1954
Reader
archie1954

I find the Canadian response to the accusations against Russia to be disingenuous and embarrassing!

Jezz
Reader
Jezz

An excellent article. I have been looking more at the lack of identification of the 37 locals who have allegedly been in contact with the alleged nerve agent. It’s now 24 days since the alleged incident and all we’ve been told by ‘the authorities’ is that there were 37 people being treated, some as out-patients. 39 hours after the tragic Manchester arena terrorist attack ITV had the faces of 22 victims up on screen in a collage, less than 2 days. So far we’ve not heard the names of these 37, their welfare, we’ve not heard from their worried friends… Read more »

Wolfe tone
Reader

According to the daily mirror the residents of Salisbury had a public meeting with authorities voicing their concerns about risk etc. In the same article it quietly stated:”The total number taken ill was confirmed as four, not the 38 previously reported.” Alas most folk don’t wanna hear the truth…..that they are being mugged.

P.E. Ace
Reader
P.E. Ace

The Skripal saga helps to railroad the EU and esp Germany into abandoning Nordstream2, together with the Trump-Russia collusion hoax. Apologies for repeating myself. No Nordstream2 would also increase Ukraine’s future cashflow and importance to the EU and on the margin help gain support for an all-out war in the east of that country. Skripal saga is also embraced by politicians and media who allege the Brexit vote was swung by data firms that can be linked to Russian clients and the hardly 2 pounds of adverts on twitter and facebook that potentially can be linked to Russian twitter or… Read more »

wildtalents
Reader

Can envisage it now: Boris Johnson blubbering “How could we have been so fooled..?”
Fraudian : Common Sense Finally Wins! (Now let’s get on with the next war chaps)
Nauseating

jantje
Reader
jantje

I totally agree with that comment on north stream2,the ultimate goal is to wreck rhe russian economy and sell much more expensive shale gas to the european market

ninetto
Reader
ninetto

Actually just yesterday the final approval for North Stream 2 passed the German Federal Authorities.
https://tinyurl.com/y7as9yt3
But this went through due to former Chancellor’s Gerhardt Schröder’s ties to Russia and Gazprom and Rosneft, where he holds board positions. Russia played its cards right on that one, securing a key power player in Germany.
Perhaps the CIA let this one go, because otherwise Germany has been a perfect little darling, fulfilling all the USA’s other wishes regarding Ukraine, NATO, Israel, etc.

always write
Reader
always write

for now perhaps, but the Germans are in a particular bind as they really fear the rise of China which they have little control over, also Chinese investments and the so called 16+1 format could pull the Eastern Europeans away, which would be a disaster for German hegemony over Europe apparently theres a foreign policy tug of war going on in Germany and it looks like the dominant theory is for Germany to swing behind Washington to help contain China. if this is true i wouldn’t be at all supprised to see the EU get back on board with TTIP,… Read more »

always write
Reader
always write

….but what it will also do is effectively wreck the German economy, so America has every incentive to push for its closure, and Britain has every incentive to use the threat of this closure in its Brexit negotiations, not that any of this will be disclosed in public

jantje
Reader
jantje

and than you can ask yourself why the brits interfere in european affairs,I thought they brexit[ted]?or is there more drama to come?