How Putin is bamboozling the West -- again

Sergei and Yulia Skripal ...

Posted: Apr 12, 2018 12:30 PM
Updated: Apr 12, 2018 12:30 PM

Sergei and Yulia Skripal were poisoned in the quiet English cathedral city of Salisbury on March 4.

In the 24 hours that followed, public confusion about their symptoms gave way to the harsh reality that the father and daughter were likely the victims of an evil plot to poison them with a nerve agent.

A week later, on the 12th of March, UK Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed what had already begun circulating in British media: intelligence suggested that Skripal, a former Russian spy and double agent for UK intelligence services, had likely been poisoned by Russia.

May told British parliamentarians: "It is now clear that Mr. Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia. This is part of a group of nerve agents known as 'Novichok.'"

She gave Russia 48 hours to respond to two questions, or else the UK would take action.

Two days later, on March 14, May had still not had an official Russian response -- although by then she was being snowed under by an avalanche of Russian denials, innuendo and accusations that Moscow was being falsely blamed.

She expelled 23 Russian diplomats believed to be undercover intelligence operatives.

The UN's chemical weapons watchdog, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), was invited in to investigate.

Two weeks later, May's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson spoke of a "torrent of obfuscation" from Russia, saying that "the Foreign Office has so far counted 24 such ludicrous fibs."

But what is now becoming clear is that long before Johnson spoke -- and even before May expelled the Russian diplomats -- Moscow was already executing its real response.

It would not have been easy to spot at the time because it had nothing directly to do with the Skripals. Yet in hindsight it stands out like a red rag to a bull.

Perhaps its author might have been the clue: Valery Gerasimov, Russia's Military Chief of General Staff, the brains behind the so-called "Gerasimov Doctrine."

Believed by many analysts to be Russia's smartest general of his generation, Gerasimov is the architect of Russia's asymmetrical warfare.

He strategized that the state could achieve its goals by combining military, cyber, diplomatic, economic and cultural tools -- the same grab bag of tactics that presaged Russia's annexation of Crimea and incursion into Ukraine and morphed into its meddling in the US election.

On March 13, the day after Theresa May blamed Russia for Skripal's poisoning, Gerasimov announced that he had discovered a US plan to fake a chemical weapons attack against civilians in Eastern Ghouta and then blame Assad's army.

It was coincidentally also the day after US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley blamed Russia for stalling a ceasefire in Syria.

Only the keenest and perhaps most cynical observer of Russian propaganda might have thought at the time that the general's prediction of a chemical attack would actually come to pass.

That same seasoned observer might now be concluding that back then in early March, Gerasimov was actually employing his own asymmetrical doctrine to the Skripal issue.

What has now become clear is the full horror of last weekend's chemical weapons attack, with children, women and men dead in the basements where they were hiding.

International condemnation of Bashar al-Assad and Russia has followed, with diplomats from the US, the UK, France, Australia and other countries clear in their minds that the Assad regime was responsible.

The debate at the UN has since been blocked by Russia, balking at the independence of an investigation that would find out exactly who was responsible.

The OPCW, so vital in the Skripal case, has since been drawn in to reviewing the Syria attack -- and almost all mention of Russia's culpability in Skripal's poisoning has disappeared from view.

In asymmetric terms, Gerasimov seems to have pulled off the impossible: diverting attention, albeit at huge potential cost.

Yet Russia's top general had another trick in his pocket back in March: he announced that if the US were to launch an attack on Syria, Russia would target the American missiles and the carriers firing them.

On Wednesday this week, within hours of Russia's Ambassador to Lebanon repeating Gerasimov's March statement about targeting US missiles and carriers, US President Donald Trump entered the fray with a Twitter fusillade, loud enough to drown out any talk of Skripal by the cacophony responding to Trump's apparent declaration of strikes.

Even Gerasimov may have been surprised at the way Russia has buried its British problem. But now, it appears Moscow may be left with a far bigger and more dangerous issue on its hands.

Yet Gerasimov may have a solution for that too: huge numbers of Russian troops and heavy armor have been sighted heading to Russia's border with Ukraine, where Russian-backed Ukrainian separatists are reportedly increasing artillery exchanges with Ukrainian forces.

With his asymmetrical doctrine, Gerasimov appears to be armed with an array of patches for any holes in Vladimir Putin's strategies.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 604184

Reported Deaths: 7620
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1248631774
Ramsey52480895
Dakota46804470
Anoka42746458
Washington27416291
Stearns22552224
St. Louis18137312
Scott17548135
Wright16370149
Olmsted13391102
Sherburne1201295
Carver1066448
Clay825892
Rice8196110
Blue Earth762543
Crow Wing681594
Kandiyohi667885
Chisago619752
Otter Tail585884
Benton582998
Goodhue483874
Douglas475381
Mower470733
Winona461251
Itasca459263
Isanti439964
McLeod430361
Morrison424662
Nobles407950
Beltrami407561
Steele397616
Polk389072
Becker386655
Lyon363853
Carlton352756
Freeborn346932
Pine335023
Nicollet331045
Mille Lacs311654
Brown307840
Le Sueur297226
Cass286032
Todd285632
Meeker263142
Waseca238023
Martin235332
Roseau211021
Wabasha20783
Hubbard196441
Dodge18783
Renville182446
Redwood176338
Houston174616
Cottonwood167124
Wadena162823
Fillmore157410
Faribault154419
Chippewa153938
Pennington153820
Kanabec146828
Sibley146810
Aitkin138837
Watonwan13579
Rock128719
Jackson122612
Pipestone116726
Yellow Medicine114920
Pope11296
Murray107010
Swift106918
Koochiching95217
Stevens92411
Clearwater89016
Marshall88817
Wilkin83213
Lake83120
Lac qui Parle75622
Big Stone6044
Grant5938
Lincoln5843
Mahnomen5669
Norman5479
Kittson49022
Unassigned48293
Red Lake4017
Traverse3775
Lake of the Woods3453
Cook1720

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 370914

Reported Deaths: 6048
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk58232640
Linn21204339
Scott20306247
Black Hawk16119312
Woodbury15238230
Johnson1461585
Dubuque13506211
Dallas1128999
Pottawattamie11223174
Story1071448
Warren583991
Clinton561493
Cerro Gordo553593
Sioux517074
Webster515494
Muscatine4880106
Marshall486676
Des Moines467271
Wapello4337122
Buena Vista426940
Jasper421172
Plymouth402981
Lee382356
Marion366076
Jones300957
Henry294637
Bremer288261
Carroll286852
Crawford268540
Boone268434
Benton259655
Washington256751
Dickinson249344
Mahaska232351
Jackson225242
Clay216627
Kossuth216166
Tama211871
Delaware210943
Winneshiek198535
Page194522
Buchanan193733
Cedar192223
Hardin187444
Fayette186543
Wright185940
Hamilton181851
Harrison179973
Clayton171057
Butler166235
Madison164619
Mills163724
Floyd163342
Cherokee159338
Lyon158841
Poweshiek157036
Allamakee152652
Hancock150234
Iowa149824
Winnebago144531
Cass139255
Calhoun138913
Grundy137333
Emmet135841
Jefferson133435
Shelby131537
Sac130920
Union129935
Louisa129749
Appanoose129049
Mitchell126643
Chickasaw124717
Franklin123323
Guthrie123232
Humboldt119626
Palo Alto113523
Howard104922
Montgomery103638
Clarke100924
Keokuk96532
Monroe96330
Unassigned9560
Ida91535
Adair87332
Pocahontas85822
Davis85225
Monona82931
Osceola78916
Greene78011
Lucas77923
Worth7598
Taylor66812
Fremont6269
Decatur6169
Van Buren56418
Ringgold56324
Wayne54423
Audubon53411
Adams3444
Rochester
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 78°
Mason City
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 80°
Albert Lea
Partly Cloudy
81° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 80°
Austin
Partly Cloudy
81° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 81°
Charles City
Partly Cloudy
77° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 79°
Another round of thunderstorms possible on Friday
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

There's a nationwide blood shortage

Image

Juneteenth is now a federal holiday

Image

Aaron's Friday Forecast (6/18/21)

Image

Runner attacked by deer on Austin trail

Image

Aaron's Evening Forecast (6/17/21)

Image

Gov. Reynolds Signs Back The Blue Bill

Image

Preparing for severe weather with Emergency Management tips

Image

Improving Rochester transportation

Image

Ryan's Evening Forecast (6/14/21)

Image

Medical experts are concerned with new Delta variant

Community Events