Putin has come out a winner in the Skripal Case, Kirillova says


International, More

Many people are looking at the tough language that London and other Western capitals have used to denounce Moscow for its attempt to kill Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the UK and concluding that Vladimir Putin has suffered a major defeat. But in fact, Kseniya Kirillova says, Putin came out a winner given what he hoped to achieve.

Kseniya Kirillova

Kseniya Kirillova

On the one hand, neither London nor the other Western capitals have imposed new penalties corresponding to their tough new language. Indeed, expelling only 23 diplomats is hardly a major penalty; and it is one Moscow can easily match without suffering real problems, the US-based Russian analyst writes in SlavicSac.com.

And on the other, in deciding on who won and who lost in this situation, one has to consider the reasons Moscow took its initial action and those which animated the West. If one does that, Kirillova suggests, it is clear that Putin came out a winner in the Skripal case, something that makes it more likely he will engage in similar crimes in the future.

“The majority of experts,” the analyst says, “are inclined to the version that the main goal of the attack on Skripal was to send a message to other potential defectors, not only from among the officers of the special services but also officials, oligarchs and all those who are informed about the Kremlin’s dirty deeds.”

These include in particular, Kirillova continues, those listed in Washington’s “Kremlin Report” but not yet sanctioned and who may want to work out a deal, those with information of interest to the Mueller investigation in the United States, and others like Oleg Deripaska who have offended the Kremlin by their actions.

Those who do so domestically the Kremlin finds it easy to send a message that “it is better to lose your business than to lose your life,” the analyst says. But those living abroad present a different but as the Litvinenko and Skripal cases show far from irresolvable challenge – and they are generally carefully prepared lest things go other than the leadership intends.

That certainly seems to be the case with Skripal, Kirillova says. On the very day he was attacked, Moscow’s REN TV already had a story prepared about the utility of doing away with those whom foreign intelligence services may recruit.

And Russian blogger Nikita Tomilin provided additional evidence that the Kremlin had prepared this attack not just to remove Skripal but as a PR effort to send a message to others.

Since the attack on Skripal in the United Kingdom, Russian media and Russian officials have used the word “message” a lot in their discussions about the case, an indication that that is exactly what the Kremlin had in mind.

And to be honest, Putin from his point of view won more than he lost.

He succeeded in stirring up nationalist passions at home in advance of the elections, and he succeeded as well in keeping the British response “diplomatic” and moderate. Yes, London expelled 23 Russian “diplomats,” but that is a loss Putin can easily make up for and respond to in kind without much criticism at home or abroad.


As US-based Russian historian Yury Felshtinsky has said repeatedly, Moscow in general and Putin in particular believe that the West will complain a lot when there is an attack but do very little. As a result, Kirillova suggests, there is no reason to believe that Putin won’t carry out more such attacks in the future.

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Edited by: A. N.

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  1. Avatar MichaelA says:

    putin will be the winner if britain does not make a meaningful response
    the author is right that merely expelling diplomats is not such a response
    everyone knew that russia would simply expel the same number of diplomats in return
    if britain expects to be treated with respect by russia then it needs to take serious action

    one of the best ways would be to move against the assets of russian elites
    they have billions invested in property and shares in london
    and they cant explain where they got it from
    the british government should seize these assets

    1. Avatar Ihor Dawydiak says:

      True enough but there are several issues that the British Government would have to address before undertaking radical actions, both internally and externally, against Putin, his Administration, his cronies and others. Internally, the Conservative Government of PM T. May would need the support of all or most significant Parties in the British House of Commons as they are in a minority Government situation. They would also need a way to negate any possible backlash from the financial sector since those are people who for the most part prop up political parties. In addition, there are matters of law that would have to be addressed before the freezing or expropriation of Russian assets could be undertaken. Then, on the other side of the coin, there are the external factors. It would be very important if not vital that that Britain have the full and unwavering support and not just through words from its allies. In addition, Britain would have to present a solid case before the international community including the UN to justify its actions. Finally there is the matter of fortitude. After all, actions in these matters will speak much louder than words.

      1. Avatar MichaelA says:

        hi ihor i agree with most of what you say
        but may doesnt need to change the laws
        britain already has a law that government can seize assets over a certain amount if the person owning the assets cannot explain where they got the money to purchase them
        the first step is to require the oligarchs to state where they got the money

        sure its a radical action
        so is using nerve gas on russian dissidents inside britain – about as radical as you can get

  2. Avatar zorbatheturk says:

    Putin belongs in a jail.