On September 2nd, tests performed on samples taken from prominent Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny showed the presence of the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok, according to the German government.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said in a statement that testing by a special German military laboratory had shown “proof without doubt of a chemical nerve agent from the Novichok group”.
“It is a dismaying event that Alexey Navalny was the victim of an attack with a chemical nerve agent in Russia,” Seibert said. “The German government condemns this attack in the strongest terms. The Russian government is urgently requested to provide clarifications over the incident.”
“This is disturbing information about the attempted murder through poisoning against a leading Russian opposition figure,” Merkel told a news conference. “Alexey Navalny was the victim of an attack with a chemical nerve agent of the Novichok group.”
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas urged Moscow to investigate the poisoning, and said the Russian ambassador had been summoned to explain the evidence.
“This makes it all the more urgent that those responsible in Russia be identified and held accountable,” Maas told reporters. “We condemn this attack in the strongest terms.”
The UK, US and others immediately responded to the report, condemning Russia’s alleged actions in failing to assassinate Alexey Navalny with Novichok, similarly to how it allegedly failed to kill Sergey and Yuliya Skripal.
(1 of 3) “The United States is deeply troubled by the results released today. Alexei Navalny’s poisoning is completely reprehensible. Russia has used the chemical nerve agent Novichok in the past.
— NSC (@WHNSC) September 2, 2020
(3 of 3) “The Russian people have a right to express their views peacefully without fear of retribution of any kind, and certainly not with chemical agents.” – NSC Spokesman John Ullyot
— NSC (@WHNSC) September 2, 2020
Currently, new sanctions from the US and the EU are inevitable one way or another.
The pressure will be exerted into four directions, more than likely:
- Attempt to entirely cancel Nord Stream 2, despite resistance from Chancellor Angela Merkel and German business, but to the benefit of those in Germany, and the US who strongly oppose the project.
- Limit any actions that Russia may take towards Belarus.
- Cause a further deterioration in relations between the Russian Federation and the EU, as well as provoke a deterioration in relations between Germany and the Russian Federation.
- Return the “Russian aggression” narrative in to the mainstream even more so, as the US elections are nearing and Russian hysteria needs to make a comeback for political gains, internally, in the US.
Furthermore, the story is likely to develop heavily in the media, similarly to what happened with the Skripals.
Back in 2014, the wreckage of Malaysian Airlines flight MH-17 was handed over to the Netherlands, and biased and unsubstantiated accusations began being propagated.
Similarly, Alexey Navalny was handed over to Germany and stories about Novichok immediately surface and begin being propagated.
But still, let’s look at the claims:
- If one would assume that Navalny was, in fact, poisoned following an order by the Kremlin, how likely is it that Novichok poisoning, with an incredibly dangerous nerve agent would fail twice. Clearly, it allegedly failed in Skripal, now it failed again. And knowing that they had poisoned him, the Russians somehow release Navalny to Germany. It should be reminded that Navalny is a Russian citizen, and Russia doesn’t not deport its citizens.
- Another option is that some other party poisoned Navalny. He was taken to hospital, and clearly poison would quickly be detected if one would know what they were looking for, and it is unlikely that the Russian physicians had no idea that a high-ranking Russian official could be poisoned. As such, it is likely that they discovered he was allegedly poisoned by Novichok, and they still released him to Germany? Or maybe the Russians couldn’t detect the poison they allegedly created themselves?
Both of these would lead to the same scenario – accusations, new sanctions and pressure. Both also resulted in failure since the “assassination attempt” didn’t result in anybody dying.
It also should be reminded that German outlet DW reported that Navalny could have been poisoned by Novichok more than a week ago, prior to any accusations.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- British Trace In Navalny Poisoning
- Russia Rejects Navalny Was Poisoned, But Sanctions Appear To Be Just Around The Corner