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Russian spies detained in The Hague were planning cyber break-in at Swiss lab (dutchnews.nl)
141 points by yread 12 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 137 comments





Quite believable. Russian gov. has a motive to interfere with OPCW investigations, and anything that can sow more doubt, fear, confusion or distraction is good as to their strategy post-Chemical attacks that gain publicity. The final report on Douma attack is yet to be released, so it would not be late to create needless problems for the investigation, and I trust OPCW to not make up stuff about hacking attempts certainly more than secret services or Kremlin. It's a fine international organization. If anything, Kremlin is probably more interested now that OPCW gained responsibility to point fingers at perpetrators a few months ago.

Russians had to beg for the OPCW to go collect samples from Douma. While they were there, UK, FR, US were having fun bombing the area.

How can more Russian FUD be good for Russia? Because that is UK and US do everyday. They dont need Russia help.

Also OPCW does analysis in more than one lab.

Both Skripal and Syria chemical use theories are very weak.


Not really. Point me to the OPCW report that says evidence of chemical weapons use in Syria is weak.

FUD is good, because it takes away/weakens popular support from any kind of western intervention, which is good for Putin's interests in the region. Less competition.

Also you're rewriting history. I was actually watching the developments quite closely as it was happening and there were numerous reports of Russians delaying OPCW FFM on basis of security in the area, while at the same time parading around some journalists in the same area.

And last, the US and friends bombing were during the night and in a different place. Certainly nothing that would prevent OPCW FFM from operating in the area.


I said theories. As in "Russia stands to gain from Skripal poisoning, only they had the method, it was a state operation, approved by Putin, during election campaign and FIFA2018" And "Assad gassing his people while wining the war". But you also have reports from UN/OPCW that the rebeles were the ones to chemical weapons, or that there were no chemical weapons used in Douma.

I don't see how FUD of Russia damages western intervention. Also the disaster of previous western interventions, and the current in Syria supporting the terrorists speaks for itself.

Russia vetoed a US UN resolution to determine responsibles without an FFM, just relying on the civil society and media reports. Other Russia delaying news were already almost 10 days in, including after US bombings. They say it was for security reasons, and there were shotings while the investigators were there. Also if there were journalists parading how could they interfere with the evidence?

They bombed in Douma area also. Which was strange since investigators were on their way. Also taking action before the investigation does not sound very credible.


All you said was that chemical use theories are weak. Yet they are not weak. Chemical weapons are used in Syria almost since the beginning of the uprising. For example, OPCW determined Sarin was used several times in 2017. So chemical weapons are used in Syria. There are almost no reports of other parties than ISIS and Assad using chemical weapons. Quantity matters. It's like 1:100. I can think of one incident near Aleppo, that's always used in these conversations.

It's actually one of the ways Russian propaganda works. There's no proportionality involved. It's just Assad does this. Oh no, other people do it too, so... presumably it's ok? or it's messy, so presumably we should all give Putin free hand to do what he likes?

Yes, corrupt rebels are no better in principle than Assad, but amount of damage they did and can do is very limited, compared to actual damage done by the regime to people who protested against it. And it's not just rebel groups vs Assad, there's also much larger civil society, that just dislikes all corrupt leaders and wants to have a peaceful life for once. And these people have much better chance organizing against local warlords, if Assad would not constantly attack them.

> Which was strange since investigators were on their way. Also taking action before the investigation does not sound very credible.

Perhaps, but it turned out to be right, according to preliminary report.


I have been starting to read TASS news in parallel to Reuters' feed.

From only reading news, I don't know which side to trust anymore. Putin's gov denies almost all accusations (cyberattacks, chimical attacks, nerve agents, etc) from Western countries, and instead accuses the West govs of creating a "russo-phobia" amongst people opinion.

Example of news you can read on TASS, but not relayed by Reuters : http://tass.com/politics/1021365 http://tass.com/politics/1021274 http://tass.com/defense/1021107 http://tass.com/world/1021091

And it goes on and on...

If you only read TASS, you would quickly think Western govs are not much "cleaner" than Russia


Reuters isn't a state-owned propaganda outlet; TASS has been since at least the early days of the Bolshevik regime (and maybe earlier; it was state-owned telegraph agency under the Tsarist regime, but I don't have any information of whether it acted as a state propaganda arm then; it's journalist came from a separate firm.)

That doesn't mean CIA/NSA doesn't influence it. You can clearly see the same narrative across all mainstream media. And commentators with different opinions being shutdown.

> That doesn't mean CIA/NSA doesn't influence it. You can clearly see the same narrative across all mainstream media.

A simple explanation for that is that facts exist and impact the coverage presented by media outlets that make some effort to do what their overt role is.

I mean, alternatively, you could suspect,as you imply, that all non-fringe media that aren't state run propaganda arms of US rivals are, in fact, US state propaganda outlets pushing CIA/NSA scripted narratives.

Well, except when Paul Manafort isn't planting propaganda for Russian client regimes in them, at any rate.


I just agree we are better informed watching news from both countries when it involves them. Be it state owned or not.

"Hillary is going to win the election!" Was certainly propaganda.

I don't have any theory, but you can see they all somehow sing to the same tune, including UK and EU. They want to give their approved opinions instead of reporting reality. With the exception of the ocasional independent journalist.


> I just agree we are better informed watching news from both countries when it involves them. Be it state owned or not.

This.

I wasn't necessarily meaning that TASS or Reuters were scripted or censored by CIA/Kremlin. However we can pragmatically assert both agencies have biases (cultural, political, financial, etc).

For example, according to Russia, the British government released almost no data about the toxic nerve agent case, no specific proof was made public. Other governments (France, US) said they support the UK.

Now that did lead to more sanctions on Russia, and the expulsion of Russian diplomats, but from an external observer point of view, it isn't rigorous at all. IMHO, many more reports and documents should be made public, especially about the methods used to conclude that the Russian government is the source of the attack.

Would the general public arrive to the same conclusions than the governments?

I'm 27 years old, I didn't live during the ex-URSS or the Cold War. All I see is 2 camps accusing each other and escalating without serious proof, and people are supposed to say nothing about it? To me, the days when we systematically accused the Russian government of all the shady stuff are supposed to be gone, and we are supposed to use rigorous tribunal procedure before sanctioning an entity, especially if it means deteriorating international relations


>"Hillary is going to win the election!" Was certainly propaganda.

An opinion that one of two candidates would win the election was "certainly propaganda?"


Ok. What I meat was: "All mainstream media claiming Hillary was certainly the election winner. And some pointing statistics like 95%." was propaganda.

No, the predictors making that prediction weren't doing propaganda, and most mainstream outlets didn't make that (or any other prediction), though many reported the fact of the existence of one or more of the predictions that were made.

Those making the 95% prediction were using statistical models established for that purpose before the identity of the candidates or what those models would show were known. They quite arguably are bad models as they assumed state level deviations from polling results are independent where history suggests that, in fact, they are strongly correlated (a fact pointed out by Nate Silver prior to the election, in explaining why 538 had a much lower projection of Clinton's probability of victory.) But choosing a bad model isn't propaganda.


Nice excuses. What I heard was the media, and the "experts", did a bad job.

A poll, your favorite. Let's hope they used a good model. https://news.gallup.com/poll/197090/majority-voters-think-me...


Yeah, the difference is striking. I can understand why he'd like to believe that outsiders hate Russians rather than him, yet people often times say Putin or Kremlin, to differentiate between ordinary Russians and the actions of their government. Even more so, if they have experience living under an authoritarian regime.


Yes.

Yeah, we, Russians, are so stupid so decided to kill the guy who was in our prison several years ago (why did not we do that then?) with a top Soviet chemical weapon which is like droping a nuclear bomb to kill a single person. There is a information war happening to desecrate Russian Federation in the eyes of the world and nothing more.

That is one of the interesting things about all this - but there are also much easier ways to do false flag operations.

The evidence of this and previous assassination attempts is either there´s some idiot at the top of Soviet intelligence who just has to be creative, or far more likely the whole point is to send a very public message to the rather large Russian diaspora, that no matter how far they run, Mother Russia is looking over their shoulder.

For that purpose, a quiet inconspicuous assassination would be totally pointless.


To do what you describe they simply send guys from a well-known ‘republic’, which is all green light on any crime you have in your russian crime book. All russians understand this language, and there is no reason to use wmds for that. If it was a message, it must be very secret language of selected few, not for a diaspora. I really doubt that there is a thing like ‘looking over their shoulder’ since what’s the reason for that? Why not just look over all shoulders?

The fact that no one understands (or asks himself) how these irrational political actions take place at all shows that they are smarter than you may think. Or that they are just complete idiots. Choose your enemy and good luck with that. Or don’t and stay aware.

But let’s not be fooled by politics, I already feel from these hn discussions how russians are more and more viewed as monkeys with grenades and even if it wasn’t a someones goal, it was totally reached. As if it was a shame being russian, politics excluded. I’m deeply offended by this ignorance, vot.


Wow, so what you are basically saying is that the Russians intended this assassination to be discovered and demonstrated to be a poisoning attack?

Given how these stories over the poisoning have played out it certainly looks that way. The "cover" story is comically poor, and they have plenty of people intelligent enough to do better.

So short of Putin calling a press conference saying "Yup, we did it" it couldn't have been telegraphed much clearer.


I agree. This is by far the most likely rationale. They've basically taken a leaf out of the Mossad playbook.

I'm a bit surprised they don't have Shaggy playing in the background during the press conferences.


> they have plenty of people intelligent enough to do better

Now, that's a very charitable assumption. I am not sure we have any evidence for that :-)

> Given how these stories over the poisoning have played out it certainly looks that way.

But that would mean that they were provoking the Western countries to give them hell. I am the first to admit that I do not hold their intellectual powers in any high esteem, but even so, even for them, this sounds outrageously insolent and stupid.


No, I would gently submit that they are provoking Western media to give them lots, and lots, of free publicity.

Western countries are not going to give Russia any kind of hell that Russia´s rulers will really care about. Russia is a major gas and oil supplier to the entire of Western Europe.


>But that would mean that they were provoking the Western countries to give them hell

Gee, you think?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annexation_of_Crimea_by_the_Ru...

Putin clearly has no problem with the idea of provoking Western countries.


Crimea is really very much of a corner case.

First, it's not in a Western country.

Second, the annexation happened soon after the Ukranian revolution, which made the legitimacy of the Ukranian government (and the very status of the Ukranian state) at that point uncertain.

Third, there were various historical and political considerations muddying the issue (Crimea was given to the Ukraine by the head of the USSR only about a generation ago, and there was a general feeling of a historical injustice done by this act; there was a large Russian population in Crimea; and the revolutionary Ukraine was markedly nationalistic and anti-Russian, which probably pushed a large portion of the Russian-speaking Crimean population into the embrace of Russia).

Smuggling a military-grade poison in Britain is quite a different matter.


The invasion of Crimea is a much bigger deal that the Skripal poisoning. Russia clearly isn't afraid of "provoking" Western countries.

Why is it a bigger deal?

It could have been a bigger deal if Ukraine were a member of NATO, and the alliance had an obligation to respond. But as the things stand, why is it a big deal — for the US, the UK, Germany, France, etc.?

(Skripals poisoning, in contrast, would imply a special operation on the soil of a sovereign Western country, using the tabooed chemical weapons. A concrete, old-school, physical action, as opposed to the more abstract propaganda wars or some shady online activities.)


>Skripals poisoning, in contrast, would imply a special operation on the soil of a sovereign Western country, using the tabooed chemical weapons.

That's nothing Russia hadn't already done years before.


And proudly signaled to the rest of the world that it was them that did it?

What cases are you thinking about?



Yes, the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko.

Even the Wikipedia article says that the correct diagnosis — the poisoning by polonium-210 — was made to a large extent due to a happy coincidence: there happened to be a scientist in the facility where Litvinenko was treated who happened to have worked with polonium. Were it not for that coincidence, it is very possible the correct diagnosis would not have been reached, and the very investigation that followed would not gone very far.

So I am not sure how Litvinenko poisoning is an illustration of an assassination attempt advertised as such to the rest of the world. On the contrary, it looks like a murder attempt that was intended to have never been solved.


>On the contrary, it looks like a murder attempt that was intended to have never been solved

Seriously? Using Polonium meant that it took weeks for Litvinenko to die, giving him plenty of time to make it clear exactly who was responsible, and even give interviews to the press. If they wanted to keep it quiet, they did a pretty terrible job.


The invasion is a much bigger deal on a global scale, but not against a country firmly established as part of the West, while the Skripal poisoning is chemical weapon attack on the territory of a NATO member; as such, it is a far greater provocation of Western countries.

The invasion of Crimea triggered a far greater response from the West than the Skripal poisoning. Russia has been poisoning people on British soil for a while now; it's nothing new.

>which is like droping a nuclear bomb to kill a single person

check that. Litvinenko. Basically minimal possible weapon of nuclear kind. Leaving no doubts who did it.

That is the point. An unmistakable publicly visible signature so nobody would have any doubts who did it, and all that without need to publicly take responsibility. Like with Nemtsov - killed right in the view from Putin's office. No need to claim responsibility while everybody clearly understands who did it.

>There is a information war happening to desecrate Russian Federation in the eyes of the world and nothing more.

The "information war" goes non-stop in the world, and Russia is far from being the only target or participant. The only thing we hear from Russia is that non-stop whining.


Why not use chemical weapons? Kim's brother was assassinated by VX for example. So it's not really out of character for autocrats.

Chemical weapons are easy to use in quantities that ensure limited effect.


Much easier and quiet way is to find a criminal guy who would kill Skripal for money and make it look like a robbery.

Depends on the goal. I don't think you can assume it was just to get rid of the person.

But that's the thing.

There's no clear reason for Russians to so publicly go after this guy. They gain absolutely nothing from it. Whatever the "message" this was supposed to send, it's unclear.


> Whatever the "message" this was supposed to send, it's unclear

Large numbers of former KGB and FSB agents live outside Russia. These well-publicised killings send a clear message to them about the consequences of spilling—or threatening to spill—Putin’s beans.


What interesting life we live now. You can just watch the news and feel like you’re in the middle of some cool plotted tv series. Deep history, inriguing secrets, sharp moves, old hatred. It’s also along the modern trend of being sarcastic and a little cynical.

Except that it is our real life and it clearly shown to not be like any tv show before.


Yeah, that's the TV line.

This guy lived quietly in the UK and had no "Putin's beans" to spill. He did blow cover of several hundred Russian agents, but he did time for that in Russia and then he was exchanged. It is possible it was a long-delayed payback from the GRU, but, again, there is no reason for it to be made that publicly. He could've choked on a pound coin and everyone who needed to know would've gotten the message. But the way it stands, the only discernible message here is "don't do any more spy exchanges with Russia".


>Sergei V. Skripal, the former Russian spy poisoned in Britain with a powerful nerve agent, appears to have been working in recent years with intelligence officers in Spain, a country locked in a pitched battle with Russian organized crime groups, some with ties to the Russian government.

>Rather than merely living an isolated life in retirement, Mr. Skripal, a former Russian military intelligence officer, continued to provide briefings to spies in the Czech Republic and Estonia, according to European officials. Now, it appears he was also active in Spain.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/06/world/europe/skripal-pois...


How interesting. This definitely puts things in a different perspective.

> that's the TV line

As well as the well-substantiated conclusion of several international investigations. Same reasoning for Litvinenko’s polonium tea and North Korea’s nerve agent assassination.


That reasoning in this context doesn't make any sense. That's the problem.

Ok then. Who else had the motivation to ostentatiously kill him using a weapon only available to state actors?

Another state actor? Though in the light of [1] it'd seem far less probable.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17987031


Indeed. Russia is the only plausible candidate.

> why did not we do that then?

I think this logic is backwards. The question of why the Russians did not kill Skripal back then has no place in establishing whether they attempted to kill him now. The question should not be why did they not kill him then, but rather why did they try to do it now (if indeed it was them who did it).

As for the information war (aka propaganda), I think that's pretty obvious (only Russia is not an innocent victim here, but also a warring party).


From my first-hard experience of incompetence and incoordination of different Russian intelligence agencies and branches (mostly internal, though) - yes, "we" are that stupid. Aggressive, resourceful, but stupid indeed.

Calling some person a "spy" without any investigation is stupid as well. As we all know Skripal in not a spy for a long time (former - maybe), but he was called "Russian Spy" from the beginning of all this story. Bullshit all over the place.

> why did not we do that then?

Because that would have been stupid. Why kill a spy when you can exchange him for your spies and then kill him. Which is what they (almost) did. Quite sensible really in a "fuck you world" kind of way.


Makes sense in some way. But why "Novichok" did not work then, if it is so scary super-duper chemical weapon? Both of the victims are cured.

Basically western mass media was talking that only Russia has a formula for Novichok form the beginning, how did they came up to know that is is Novichok without having the formula? If anyone can have that formula to compare or to detect that poison, is there any evidence that it was originally produced by Russia?


> why "Novichok" did not work

It did, it just didn't kill Sergei Skripal which was clearly the intent.

> Basically western mass media was talking that only Russia has a formula for Novichok

I haven't done a exhaustive analysis of all western media but the bit of western media I read didn't say that. What they said initially was that it was a nerve agent. Then, after analysis in the UK, they said it was Novichok but couldn't confirm the source. Then after international analysis, particularly at a lab in Switzerland but also others, they did confirm the source.

No-one knowledgeable is saying that only Russia has the formula because it's not true. Novichok isn't especially new, it was developed decades ago by the Soviet Union to get around NATO NBC gear. That's pretty well documented.

The fact that Novichok was used isn't what makes the labs believe it was Russian origin. It's the specific composition that makes them sure. Even then, that wouldn't necessarily mean it was Russian administered. It's all the other evidence that points there.


They had hundreds quiet of ways to kill Sergey.

What is "specific composition", how did they know that it was specific to Russia?

All this is too easy to fake and blame anyone, make that a reason to put sanctions against the country and convert it to evil in eyes of all, at least even from this forum I notice that.


> They had hundreds quiet of ways to kill Sergey

Sure they did but that clearly wasn't the goal or, at least, not the only goal. Anyone who thinks that this was somehow an incompetent operation doesn't know what they're talking about. The GRU are just doing what Mossad has been doing for years. And they appear to be doing a pretty good job of it.

> how did they know that it was specific to Russia?

Not specific to Russia, specific to a lab in Russia. As they can't publish the actual analysis, I'm going to make an educated guess that they look at trace elements in the poison. Every lab will have a signature. I have no idea whether it was from the poison itself, the solvent or something else. What was clear though is that the UK lab couldn't trace it but the Swiss could.

> convert it to evil in eyes of all

Nah. This is small potatoes compared to the invasion of Crimea.


>desecrate Russian Federation in the eyes of the world and nothing more

Russia Today does that by itself just fine.


One may or may not like what another person is talking. If you don't like what others a speaking of that's not the reason to make them shut up. But RT is forced to close is UK and US. "Democracy" in action.

[flagged]


I don't take pills, I live here and all the Skripal story is looking like a bullshit to me, that's my point of view so you can see not only what your mass media is feeding you. Russia is gaining power and other countries don't want that, so come up with ideas to blame Russia in all sins.

> Russia is gaining power

China is a rising power. Russia is a moderately-sized (between New York and Florida in GDP [1]) regional power and petrostate with shaky finances.

[1] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_between_U.S._stat...


First, I did not say we are on top, but we do gain. Second, power is not only econimics, but politics and power to stand against external threats and protect our people.

I wonder what threats Russia faces from the west?

I wonder as well.

But for one reason or other they tend to regard eastward NATO expansion as a threat.

:shrug:


It's probably the good old distraction technique. As long as there's an external enemy, the internal enemies of the people (corrupt government) is spared some pressure. Also military needs to be fed (both litarally at soldier level and metaphorically the corrupt officials, and arms suppliers), so unless you have some "enemy", it's hard to justify all the large training and expenditures.

I'm sure awarding contracts is also good way to siphon out some public money for Kremlin's cronies.


Why not "gain power" in a constructive way that benefits humanity, instead of always taking the side of tyrants and dictators?

If you are talking about Bashar al-Assad - he is officially elected president by the people in his country. I would not call him dictator. Only western people sitting on the other side of the planet know better who is the best leader for the people in other countries, lol. Sorry I can't post anymore cause I had so many votes agains my opinion.

They weren't spies, they were tourists. We get them all the time here in the UK.


Just walking around, doing nothing suspicious and carrying nothing special.

Almost certainly. My guess is that they were innocent geometry fans, visiting 'Escher in het Paleis' - a permanent exhibition of the works of Maurits Cornelis Escher located in a former Royal palace. It's pretty cool.

https://www.holland.com/global/tourism/destinations/the-hagu...


Ah yes! It's famous not just in Europe, but in the whole world!

Well, carrying whatever some secret service said they were carrying (and which we should take their word for it) in an ongoing effort to revive the Cold War...

Perhaps they even had WMDs on them...


Who knows if they were carrying anything. The Novichoc bottle probably just magicked itself to Sailsbury and they were just GRU agents with passport numbers differing by one digit on a happy holiday to see the Cathedral twice. Or maybe not.

Of course they had to make a second trip. They had to abandon the first trip because of the knee deep snow. That the Met Office say didn't happen.

Well, Russians are completely unfamiliar with bad weather. The climate in Russia is always balmy, so their not used to dealing with chilly weather.

>> and which we should take their word for it

Would you rather distrust the UK secret service and believe whatever the hell Putin is saying?

My Russian parents are so happy to listen to Russian television it makes me sick (given the fact that they are Lithuanian citizens since 1991).

The question is not whether you should trust UK secret service, but rather - which side are you on? Because the fact is that we'll probably never know anyway, and Russia is happy to monetise on the liberal distrust of the government.

After all, Soviets did have a culture of managing the public opinion in their own state.


His post and the spam of others like it are to invite enough controversy that this story disappears from the front page. And since I was obliged to post to point that out, I'll continue...

The UK is _not_ central. So now we instantly distrust the Swiss and Dutch secret services too. Who, we're to believe, framed these fellows yet punished them with nothing more than sending them back to Russia.

If Westerners are now going to consistently favor a conspicuously monstrous dictatorship over their own defense mechanisms then their story is over.

But now that this story is obviously being killed by abusing the controversy penalty algorithm, I hope the admins use it as a honey pot for locating shills.


> I hope the admins use it as a honey pot for locating shills.

There are shills on all sides.[0]

Many of the people you are calling shills are actually doubtful of the narrative put forward by a security cabal involved in one of the most pervasive and under-handed spying programmes [1].

Part of the reason for this is because that narrative is actually inconsistent with earlier versions of itself.

Those who disagree with that narrative are most likely not Russian shills, they may just be able to spot an inconsistent narrative based on evidence drip-fed to the media and refuse to believe it.

There are two Russian citizens who are now effectively limited to countries with no extradition treaty with the UK or its allies unless they are willing to face a trial that has no reasonable prospect of being fair. [2]

> If Westerners are now going to consistently favor a conspicuously monstrous dictatorship over their own defense mechanisms then their story is over.

If Westerners are going to support trial by lynch mob and trial by media with carefully-controlled evidence and a strong hint of xenophobic nationalism and a trust-our-state-sanctioned-murderers attitude then we will be the ones to suffer the consequences as the farce of the "superiority" of "western values" is truly exposed.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joint_Threat_Research_Intellig...

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tempora

[2] They have had a trial by media and been found guilty.


"Many" genuine people are doubtful of the Swiss and Dutch arrests of Russian spies because the US unethically monitors the Internet?

Arrests done solely because Switzerland really wants to start the cold war again?

No, actually the pattern generally is to sow such much confusion that people no longer believe anything and end up believing all sides are the same.

The pattern here specifically is to get the story of the front page which was successful.


> which side are you on?

There is no need to take a side. It is possible to simultaneously distrust the British spies and the Russian spies.


The problem is that to be disbelieving the Russian spies requires believing the British spies.

To believe the Russian spies (we didn't do it, somebody in the UK is killing Russians, they are liars!) requires disbelieving the British spies (the Russians did it, they're liars!).

So it has the property of being believe the British government narrative or you're agreeing with the Russian government, which feels a lot like guilt by similarity of argument.

The default position for those who believe in the rule of law is to not believe the British narrative, because they are the accusers and the burden of proof is theirs and they have publicly provided only circumstantial evidence.

It's quite a clever trap that many educated people seem to have left unchallenged.


> The problem is that to be disbelieving the Russian spies requires believing the British spies.

No it doesn't. It is quite possible that they both lie.


The Russians did it and the Russians didn't do it?

The British narrative is the Russians did it.

The Russian narrative is they had no part in it.

If you disbelieve the Russian narrative, you believe they did have a part in it.

It's possible to not believe the British narrative and not care about the Russian narrative because you don't believe they have anything to answer for, but that is altogether different from disbelieving both.

For what it's worth I don't believe the British narrative on this because of it is inconsistent with previous versions of itself and the evidence I have personally seen is circumstantial.


Your "logic", basically "choose your side and believe without questioning" is not appropriate for any more or less educated person, I need to say.

You're misrepresenting the parent comment's logic and are constructing a strawman argument. Why?

He could have used a few more words, but it isn't necessarily a strawman argument.

We have a (EDIT - silly me he's not dead) nearly dead body, so a crime has clearly been committed. We have in the courts a sophisticated process for determining whodunnit and what they done with a high standard of evidence.

Given that the people accused of undertaking the killing are foreign state actors, that process is unlikely to be taken to conclusion. The situation is political, and the people who are publicising the information are closely involved with people who are hired to be _professionally untrustworthy_.

We don't have any evidence, and should judge the situation by what the response is. If it is understated and a censure of the Russians, the UK secret service are probably being truthful. If it ties in to some real action (ie, is used as justification for something that wouldn't otherwise make sense) then the UK secret service were probably lying. It isn't like the Russians would have revealed any new intent or capability with this incident.

This type of analysis is sorely lacking in the "which side are you on" comment. We should not lock in behind a western government doing something bad because they are pointing fingers at Russia. We've regretted doing that in the past - WMD and Saddam is a pretty cut and dried example (I have others, but they aren't as clear cut and a lot of people might not regret them).


You choose a side based on the environment you support. The fact is that those "educated people" make uneducated disappointed in their own government, and Russia is happy to take advantage of that fact. The problem isn't the truth, the problem is the platform where that truth is practically used against your own system of values.

This is a really interesting proposition. So what you are saying is, if your values do not agree with the truth (whatever that might be; I am not sure what you mean here), then so much the worse for the truth? It is not your values that need revising, it is the truth that needs to be ignored?

"truth is practically used against your own system of values" - if truth is against the system of "values", the problem is in the system, not the truth.

Your argument is suffering from being too abstract, I guess. It would help if you used more examples. Many people here are probably not aware of modus operandi of the Putin regime's propaganda and I'm only semi-aware as well.

I can see one example of what you're talking about and that is how Putin co-opted some prominent western anti-US-imperialists in service of his own agenda and his own imperial ambitions (setting up permanent bases in other countries, exploiting natural resources by means of war, killing innocent people by thousands, pretty much anything anti-imperialists abhor about the US). Enemy of my enemy... I guess. These people then talk about how Russia was invited by Bashar, or whatever and that makes it ok for it to bomb people there for years - but this is usually unstated, you just sense the implied sense of legitimacy and lack of criticism for Russia.

Many of these people have some followers that then repeats their talking points, or defer to their authority.


Not pointing fingers, but aren't you trying to sow distrust towards the Russians as much as they are towards the UK?

"which side are you on" == exactly what the guy above said about people like you reviving the cold war.

What sides?


The sides where Russia is happily occupying and destabilizing the regions which were previously under their area of influence. And the fact is that most of the Russian people feel quite nationalistic about their previous "glory", so they'll eat up whatever Putin is doing to them indirectly through NATO sanctions.

>The sides where Russia is happily occupying and destabilizing the regions which were previously under their area of influence

So, the sides where Russia has been surrounded by ever closer NATO bases (post cold-war), and those countries are used to put pressure on it, while the news constantly bombard western audiences with "enemy du jour" coverage?

Where foreign countries constantly meddle with its internal goings-on (with embargoes, sanctions, supporting opposition parties, funding NGOs and "independent" organizations, and good old "Voice of America" style efforts), to establish friendly lackeys in power like Yeltsin, to sell the country's assets wholesale to them?


"Perhaps they even had WMDs on them..."

I downvoted you for this. That isn't suggested anywhere and there are enough unsubstantiated accusations flying around without people starting a few more.


He wasn't suggesting that they actually had WMDs on them.

He was drawing parallels to a high-profile previous instance of government officials lying about "enemies" in an effort to create support for wars that further their own ends.

But I think you knew that.


He did however suggest that the UK, Dutch and Swiss agencies can't be trusted in this case, which is beyond laughable. It implies that another actor would have tried to kill former Russian agents and UK citizens with a chemical weapon.

Why would anyone in the west go to such lengths to frame Russia in this? It'd be like kicking a kid that's on the ground. They have nothing to gain from it.

Adding to that, the bluntness and stupidity of these operations fits the style of Russian agencies very well. They don't seem to be very good at covert operations anymore as they failed to adapt to modern technology.


As member of the public, you should never trust intelligence agencies about anything. Disinformation of the public is part of their job description. If you are a member of the executive or the military, then it might be something different, because these agencies exist to work for you. Everyone else, not so much...

>He did however suggest that the UK, Dutch and Swiss agencies can't be trusted in this case, which is beyond laughable.

Yeah, because agencies and especially of good old colonial powers like UK and Dutch have historically been very trustable, and not at all working to promote the interests of their states (with lies, covert action, false flag operations, and so on)

>It implies that another actor would have tried to kill former Russian agents and UK citizens with a chemical weapon.

Yeah, nobody does false flags ever.

A more plausible explanation is that Putin waited 12 years to kill the guy, long after he was out of Russia (where they could have gotten to him far more easily), and from 2000 other ways to kill someone they chose something that's the equivalent of living their business card on the murder scene...


>and from 2000 other ways to kill someone they chose something that's the equivalent of living their business card on the murder scene...

This was always about sending a message. For that, it has to be obvious who did it.


>This was always about sending a message. For that, it has to be obvious who did it.

That's the poor-man's theory of a blatant murder.

As if, if the same person was murdered with a gun, the message would be lost?

Russians would then had still send their message just fine (those in similar situation as the suspect would know it immediately), but still be able to deny doing anything and avoid all the BS hoopla going on now.

But this was a crude way to set it up so they can point fingers at Russia and have the less than average IQ public see it as "obvious".


>As if, if the same person was murdered with a gun, the message would be lost?

Yes, because any criminal organization can easily obtain a gun, whereas novichok is much more difficult to obtain.

>but still be able to deny doing anything and avoid all the BS hoopla going on now.

They don't want to avoid all the "BS hoopla". This is a deliberate provocation.


>Yes, because any criminal organization can easily obtain a gun, whereas novichok is much more difficult to obtain.

That's beside the point.

If someone in disfavor was killed, everybody would still know that it wasn't some random "criminal organization" that did it. There just wouldn't be direct "evidence".

If anything, this would have made killing anybody else easier (because those taking the decision wouldn't have to risk sanctions, and embargoes, and diplomatic tension, and so on), so everybody that was in disfavor would have even more reason to fear for their life (as they'd could be killed just like that with little fuss).

>They don't want to avoid all the "BS hoopla". This is a deliberate provocation.

That's the problem with people watching too much movies like "The Dark Knight‎" where supervillains do anything just to provoke, and then apply this to states which have tons to lose, and don't just provoke for the sake of it (or to scare some third grade targets, as if they couldn't achieve it otherwise).


>If someone in disfavor was killed, everybody would still know that it wasn't some random "criminal organization" that did it.

If Skripal had been shot, it would be difficult to be sure that his death had been ordered by the Russian government. In that scenario, anyone with a grievance against him might have done it.

>There just wouldn't be direct "evidence".

Yes, that's the point!

>That's the problem with people watching too much movies like "The Dark Knight‎" where supervillains do anything just to provoke, and then apply this to states which have tons to lose, and don't just provoke for the sake of it (or to scare some third grade targets, as if they couldn't achieve it otherwise).

Nonsense. I'm just inferring from Russia's previous actions. In particular, the Litvinenko murder, which could equally well have been carried out using more conventional means.


As a Brit, I don't have a single lick of trust in the UK intelligence services.

They don't exist to protect people like me, they exist to preserve the status quo.


Wasn't this comment (the whole thread, really) just sarcasm?

Original comment was from Britain, so yes.

But let´s face it, if the Americans realized just how often the British are being conversationally sarcastic at their expense, it wouldn´t be Russian invaders that we´d have to worry about. Fortunately the accent cues don´t seem to get picked up that often.


In fairness we're conversationally sarcastic at everyone's expense, including our own, and especially our fine politicians.

It's just that Americans miss more of it than most. :)


> Original comment was from Britain, so yes.

LOL! Have my upvote!


People need to be more liberal with /s

That was sarcasm. I doubt they were even spies, or anything beyond the regular spying that always goes on between all parties...

He probably meant their brains

Since Salisbury is the LGBT capital of UK, these were two friendly family guys on vacation... ehh, wait a sec, so they are... ? You know...

That's the current narrative Russian TV is trying to push.


If the Russian gay community start popping over for holidays in Salisbury, they're going to be mightily disappointed [0].

[0] http://www.salisburyjournal.co.uk/news/15816425.City_s_only_...


> Salisbury is the LGBT capital of UK

Firstly, I think Brighton and Hove[0] would have something to say about that. Secondly, this is 2018, and it's quite alright to be gay these days!

0. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_community_of_Brighton_and...


How did the spys manage to avoid poisening themselve with the nerve agent in the process? Did they walk around in a protective suite? That might have raised some suspicions...

By keeping it in a sealed container. A nerve agent that could only be handled by someone wearing a protective suit wouldn't be very practical.

But they were spraying the aerosol around when they pressed the button. Are they some kind of robots who are immune to the stuff?

They sprayed it on the door handle. Being careful not to inhale would probably be sufficient. It's not a risk I'd be willing to take, but those guys were not in a risk free profession.

check out the killing of the Kim's brother couple years ago - 2 girls just sprayed innocent chemicals on him in public at airport, and the resulting mix of these chemicals on his face is what killed him.

Novicek was likely prepared on site, the two constituent chemicals are inert till until mixed.

When North Koreans agents killed with nerve agent they had two persons each spraying a single component separately. That makes much more sense than having a single bottle where anyone touching the bottle would likely get killed.

Article says detained, not arrested.

Swiss newspaper article also says (Google-translated):

    Why the two were brought back to Russia and not 
    prosecuted in the Netherlands or transferred to
    Switzerland, neither the Dutch military intelligence 
    nor other requested authorities wanted to explain. 
    
    It is also unknown what they did in the Netherlands.

would you have a link please?

https://www.tagesanzeiger.ch/panorama/russische-spione-auf-d...

It's the second link from the first paragraph of the HN's submission.


thank you!

Same thing (former police officer here).

There could be several reasons for not arresting these "spies". First, there might have been just suspicions but no real evidence, something that would make prosecuting these men problematic and also cause a significant diplomatic struggle for the Dutch. Secondly, the evidence itself might expose sources and methods that the Dutch would not like to be exposed in a publicly prosecuted legal case. Third, the NRC article suggests that these individuals might have been two earlier evicted Russian embassy employees, in which case they might even have been immune to arrest.

The timing of these allegations are at best suspect. If the allegations are true, it would definitely not look great on Russia. But it might have been about Russia trying to get insight into what they are up against in the whole Novichok debacle. Not nice, but something (m)any governments might try, in a case like this.

It should also be noted that Holland is not an impartial party when it comes to Russia. One of Holland's largest companies, Royal Dutch Shell, bought exclusive concession rights (for several decades to come) to natural resources in the Ukraine, most of which became inaccessible to them after the regime change in Kiev and the subsequent separation of Crimea and the eastern part of the country that it triggered. Shell, just as key American players who made similar deals, will not be happy about how events unfolded in the Ukraine. Furthermore, Shell has a substantial leverage within Dutch politics and government. Of course, none of that proves that the Dutch can not be trusted, but it might be wise to at least not blindly believe whatever Russia related news comes from them.


> One of Holland's largest companies, Royal Dutch Shell, bought exclusive concession rights (for several decades to come) to natural resources in the Ukraine, most of which became inaccessible to them after the regime change in Kiev

Royal Dutch Shell’s 20% interest in Rosneft [1], a Russian oil company, eclipses the its exposure to Ukraine. This has been a sticking point at every sanctions crossroads, with the Dutch requiring extraordinary evidence before proceeding.

[1] https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.fool.com/amp/investing/gene...


I have to admit that I did not know that. How does Shell's interest in Rosneft make their loss in the Ukraine acceptable? I get why they don't want to jeopardize their interest in Rosneft, including "advising" the Dutch government to not adopt any sanctions that would harm it. At the same time, they still would additionally benefit from regaining access to the east of the Ukraine. Or are those two goals mutually exclusive? If so, I don't (yet) see how.

All this stuff sums up to the already existing superciliousness nonsense a living form needs to goes through during life, as perpetual assault to any knowledgeable human being living on this planet! Human Being going down further and further without any brake!

Edit: Nice insta downvote!


I simply can not find source in the original Swiss article. The most relevant part of the article is:

The Federal Intelligence Service (NDB) confirms on request that the Swiss authorities are aware of "the case of the Russian spies who were discovered in the Hague and then taken away". NDB communications chief Isabelle Graber also writes: "The NDB has actively participated in this operation, together with its Dutch and British partners." This has contributed to the "prevention of illegal actions against a critical Swiss infrastructure".

How's that related to the two guys detained in Netherlands? I mean, the accusation of them being targeted Swiss lab?

How can I be sure this is not a sensationalist fantasy of a journo?

It would be good to publish the full report from NDB.




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