Tonight with Vladimir Solovyov
- The Russian embassy in the US protested against the decision to expel the Russian diplomats. Americans gave 48 Russian ambassadors and 12 UN envoys a week to move out. The Russian consulate in Seattle is also to be closed. According to the US authorities, it was too close to one of their submarine bases. The heavy blow to the Russian-US relations is bound to trigger a response. We're on the line with Dimitri Simes, President of the Center for the National Interest.
Dimitri, today was a hard day for Russia, a really hard one. The speech of Ambassador Huntsman was rather... I'd say it was rather weird. First, he didn't beat around the bush saying it could have been "highly likely", as his British counterparts put it, and directly blamed Russia for having used a toxic agent on the British territory as if the investigation was over. He also said that there's still a link between our nations but it doesn't matter unless the Russian government abandons its current policy. It's something new. Basically, it appears that the West, now led not only by Great Britain but also the US, declared a new Cold War against Russia.
Dimitri Simes, President of The Center for the National Interest:
- Greetings, Vladimir. My sincere condolences about the Kemerovo tragedy. It certainly is a very sad day. I'm also sorry that such problems between the US and Russia occur. Regarding Ambassador Huntsman, I believe you understand that it wasn't his personal opinion but rather the position of the administration. Of course, when you're about to expel 60 Russian diplomats and close a consulate it would be weird to say "We're doing it because Russia might be guilty." They are doing it because they are convinced that Russia is responsible for the Salisbury incident. I'm sure that both the British government and the US administration believe Russia is responsible. And when I say they believe, one must understand I don't mean court where such thing as presumption of innocence exists; I mean international relations.
The US started calling Russia an "adversary", and then an "enemy" on the level of official military doctrines. And when you're dealing with enemies, you don't gather sufficient evidence of their guilt in order to deliver a counter strike. It's a different game. And you were right when you said that it's the beginning of a new Cold War. To my mind, it's obvious. Yes, we have a new Cold War. Of course, it is different from the one we had before because the situation and the power balance are different, but it's still a Cold War. And we shouldn't bury our heads in the sand as if we were ostriches trying to protect ourselves from the bitter truth. It's the current state of the US-Russian relations.
- Obviously, this is surprising to us because neither New Scotland Yard nor the OPCW
didn't give anything remotely close to conclusions. On the contrary, yesterday, Russian Minister of Defense said that in 1998, US reps entered A-234 into the chemical substances registry. Although, it was removed from the registry in 2000 for some reason. Thus, we have a reason to doubt the objectivity of the US, to put it nicely. But you've answered already. If we've been declared the enemy, they can blame us for anything, even the things we didn't do.
Judging from this, Dimitri, the logic is quite odd. It's now a known fact that the Vietnam War began due to a manufactured excuse. The Iraq War — again, lies and a manufactured excuse. The Salisbury situation — no evidence is needed. Hence, we're not just talking about a new stage of the Cold War, but about the crash of any international relationship system that is built on laws, trust, and mutual respect.
- Vladimir, I didn't say that Russia and the US are considered to be enemies today. Fortunately, we have a diplomatic relationship. We conduct some sort of diplomatic dialogue. We even continue collaborating in some industries. I hope that the US and Russia won't slide back to an enemy level. Now, I'm well familiar with the story of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that was presented upon the decision of the Congress in order to expand the US intervention in Vietnam. I also know about Colin Powell
waving the vial with Iraq's mass destruction weapon, that turned out to be fake eventually, and so on, etc
However, I don't think there was a deliberate circumvention of the public opinion, the Congress, and themselves for that matter. There was some evidence, some signs. These signs and evidence were evaluated upon certain criteria and disposition. If you're dealing with a friend or someone you trust, you'll question their motives when studying the Salisbury case. Why would they need this? It's odd that they would do such a thing. You'll also wonder whether there's an alternative explanation. This is actually a standard procedure in the investigative analysis: trying to figure out what else could've happened, who else might have done it. However, if you assume you're dealing with an enemy, as the former Ambassador in Moscow Michael McFaul
said, one doesn't need to look for Russia's specific reasons for acting this way, it's enough to know that Putin
wants to scare the West. This is why Moscow is capable of any bonehead action just to demonstrate they're capable of anything, that they don't care about anyone.
If this is your opinion about Moscow's behavior, it becomes easier to believe in Russia's involvement in what had happened in Salisbury. However, it's obvious that the UK special services have some facts and evidence. I don't think they just made the entire thing up. The question is just how convincing all those facts would be if it were about a country the US had a smoother relationship with.
- Turns out that 2*2 isn't always 4. If we need it to be, it's 4, if we don't need it, it can be 3 or 5.