The Latest Incident in the West’s Provocations of Russia
By Prof. Valeria Z. Nollan
The more fervently the West’s anti-Russian powers try to advance the narrative of a poisoning of Alexei Navalny, the faster the narrative’s authenticity keeps falling apart. By the current year of 2020, six years after the 2014 U.S.-EU’s de facto coup d’état of Ukraine known as the Euromaidan, the playbook of staging provocations in order to weaken and “isolate” Russia has become crystal clear. An update on the rather tedious Navalny saga, with references to the West’s past staged incidents intended to discredit Russia, establishes the well-known features of undignified international political theatre.
In retrospect the Russian government should not have allowed Navalny to be transported to Germany, in particular because of that country’s leaders’ duplicity and unpredictability. The Russian doctors should not have trusted their German counterparts to act in an honorable and medically professional manner divorced from political scheming. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s well-known support of the EU sanctions on Russia after the 2014 reunification of Crimea with Russia and vilification of Russia in the wake of the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 in Ukraine took place even against the interests of her country and its business community. And yet, despite the shocking revelation that the administration of then U.S. president Barack Obama was tapping Chancellor Merkel’s private phone, until very recently she has consistently aligned her political positions with those of the U.S. Russia must be demeaned because it is a designated enemy, but the U.S. must remain untouchable because the German government benefits from its participation in the trans-Atlantic alliance.
In the case of Navalny, the German doctors’ examination of their now-famous patient inexplicably found traces of a chemical linked with ‘Novichok’—which contradicted the painstaking test results arrived at by the Russian doctors who saved his life and in good faith allowed him, at the request of his family, to be taken to Germany. Why Germany? Navalny has no personal, cultural, or known business connections with Germany, and Russia was perfectly capable of diagnosing and treating him. His initial statements upon beginning to recover indicate that he plans not to remain in Germany, but rather to return to Russia and resume his political work.
The real reason why Navalny was flown to Germany stems from that country’s joint project with Russia of the Nordstream 2 gas pipeline, 94% of which has been completed. Russia’s pipeline to Germany interferes with the U.S.’s promotion of its own liquid natural gas (LNG) exports to Europe. Thus a provocation had to be invented that would be played out on German soil in order to exert maximum pressure on Chancellor Merkel (a supporter of Nordstream 2 as a purely economic project) to cancel Nordstream. Medical laboratories in Germany (including a military one, which is curious), France, and Sweden (the laboratories in the latter two countries have not been named, which is also curious) allegedly identified the toxic chemical agent linked with ‘Novichok’—but to date the German government has refused to share its findings with the Russian doctors who treated Mr. Navalny and who possess the documents and original samples of his body fluids at the hospital in Omsk.
False flag #1 occurred in Germany when suddenly and unexpectedly a “water bottle” was found in the possession of the Navalny entourage that allegedly contained traces of the toxic nerve agent. This would be comical if the matter were not so serious on the international level. What is this water bottle in question? Who possessed it? Is that person also seriously ill? Why was it discovered only after Navalny arrived in Germany? If his family desperately wanted to save him, why would they not have immediately provided the Russian doctors with every material item that would help them to make a diagnosis? Finian Cunningham provides a clue: It is the fact that the Russian doctors’ findings differed from those of their German counterparts, and this could imply that the Germans had tampered with or deliberately contaminated the samples of body fluids to produce the accusation of a poisoning. Cunningham concludes convincingly, “This ‘bottle twist’ is a convenient and necessary foil to avoid the potentially damning contradiction from the Russian side. The Germans can now claim to have evidence that was not available to the Russians.”[i] Summative question: Does such a water bottle exist at all?
False flag #2 also occurred in Germany during a media interview on September 15, 2020 published by Голос Европы that included questioning by a German journalist concerning the German government’s supposed providing of its toxicological findings to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).[ii] The journalist Florian Warweg recounted that Colonel Arne Collatz-Johanssen, Deputy Spokesman of the German Ministry of Defense, had stated earlier that the German government had provided Mr. Navalny’s test results to the OSCE, but the latter organization confirmed not receiving any test results at all from Germany. Warweg continued that the German government had provided the OSCE only with a sheet stating that the toxic chemical substance had been found, but not with actual test results or details. Thus the German government had only “notified” the OSCE that a poisoning had taken place. A second journalist present expressed concern that a conclusion had been reached and made public about an alleged poisoning, but that the actual test results had not been made public. Even Germany’s journalists are frustrated in their attempts to assemble a credible narrative of the strange events. Summative question: Why is the German government withholding the test results, if these results are “irrefutable”?
This refusal to present evidence to the world in support of a serious claim echoes the U.S.’s assurance that it possessed clear evidence that Russia had downed Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 in Ukraine on July 17, 2014, but never provided that evidence to the international community. Various types of dissenting and expert opinion on this tragedy were also suppressed in the Netherlands and Germany. The disreputable pattern emerged in another instance that, for many observers, became an international joke when then UK Prime Minister Theresa May opined regarding the poisoning of the Skripals that the act was “highly likely”—without providing any evidence. The fiasco of the Skripal affair was made worse when the British government kept altering its narrative, which completely destroyed the story’s credibility.
Thus Germany claims it has evidence, but has provided nothing to officials either in the OSCE or in Russia, the country in which the incident occurred. Moscow has made repeated official requests for Germany to share its findings and to collaborate in the successful treatment of Navalny. Berlin tells Moscow to contact the OSCE, while the OSCE tells Moscow to contact Berlin. This behavior is childish and diplomatically insulting. It ranks as an example of a condescending attitude (Germany’s) towards a country (Russia) that sincerely wishes to collaborate in a professional and non-political manner. Germany feels entitled to disparage Russia because it is deeply embedded in the following political structures: Europe’s anti-Russian bloc, U.S. Russophobic tendencies, and the Five Eyes intelligence sharing nations (U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand) that coordinate their actions and votes with those of the U.S. Rather than Russia’s being targeted for “answering questions,” it is Germany that should provide answers to the myriad questions that remain.
This frustrating affair may emerge as yet another example of Europe’s proverbial shooting of itself in the foot. Russian television commentator Vladimir Soloviev made a salient point in a recent program: to paraphrase–Why is it framed in various news presentations that Russia needs to provide cheap gas to Europe? It is Europe that needs cheap gas from Russia.[iii] The need is Europe’s, not Russia’s, which can provide its gas to its many bordering countries and beyond. Soloviev also noted that other actors in Russia had motives to do away with Navalny, such as Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who as an opposition figure may be competing with Navalny for prominence in Russia. It is noteworthy that those Russian oligarchs of the 1990s and early 2000s, such as Boris Berezovsky (now deceased) and Khodorkovsky, all chose London as the place for protecting their financial assets and crafting a springboard for their activities.
In recent days a new “person of interest” has emerged in the Navalny case. Her name is Maria Pevchikh: She resides in the UK, but travels extensively and is closely associated with the Navalny entourage.[iv] She was on the German flight from Omsk to Berlin with Navalny, but when the plane landed in a private airfield she was not questioned and her whereabouts are not known. Why have the German authorities not questioned her about the alleged poisoning? What is her connection to Navalny?
Russia is treated by the West condescendingly as a second-class, criminal country. The West acts towards Russia with a public rudeness that is not only tolerated, but encouraged among those politicians who feel comfortable issuing statements that would shock and enrage them, should those statements be forthcoming towards their own respective countries; this, of course, is a double standard. I have written about this behavior elsewhere.[v] Such Russophobia amounts to ethnic and civilizational prejudice, even outright hatred. Guy Mettan, journalist and member of the Geneva Parliament, chronicles the anti-Russian attitudes and behaviors especially of England, Germany, and the U.S. taken separately in his scholarly book Creating Russophobia: From the Great Religious Schism to Anti-Putin Hysteria.[vi] This hysteria takes on concrete form through the devastating mechanism of sanctions: Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov noted concerning the Navalny case, “If the allegations that Alexey Navalny fell victim to ‘Novichok’ didn’t exist, those fanning them would make something else up as an excuse to damage Russia. . .”[vii]
On September 17, 2020 the EU Parliament passed a non-binding resolution, with no members having seen any evidence establishing Russia as the culprit in the Navalny case. The resolution asks “member states to ‘isolate Russia in international forums,’ to ‘halt the Nord Stream 2 project,’ and to prioritize the approval of another round of sanctions against Moscow.”[viii] Speaking cynically, one could imagine the parliamentarians adding to their resolution “and to wipe Russia off the face of the earth”—if one bears in mind Operation Unthinkable, masterminded by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in May, 1945. The plan in one of its iterations involved dropping nuclear bombs on 100 Russian cities, thereby annihilating the Soviet Union.[ix]
The West despises Russia because Russia, with her vast natural resources and land mass, is unconquerable, uncolonizable. Moreover, the West despises Russia because her worldview, her philosophy of life, her Christian faith tradition evolving from the Eastern rather than Western Roman Empire, and her approach to society and nation building are all fundamentally different and offer a threatening alternative to the corresponding features of the West. Russia has maintained her distinct civilization with a quiet assurance, integrity, and genuine love and respect for her own ways of being. In the cataclysmic 1990s Russia with great effort and political expertise lifted herself out of the morass, in part created and encouraged by the U.S. and various kleptocrats. Gradually in the early 21st century Russia has become independent and successful. The West’s own aggressive actions have driven Russia away and threaten to render her Western neighbors and the U.S. irrelevant to the geopolitically important Asian multipolar orientation and the Silk Road project.
In conclusion, the Navalny debacle forms part of a well-established pattern of certain countries to smear Russia in order to attain specific political ends and to cement in the minds of an ill-informed public that Russia is a despicable country whose leaders routinely commit the most heinous crimes. It is sadly ironic, because the Soviet Union was a major ally during World War II and its Red Army largely defeated Hitler on the Eastern Front and in Europe, while Germany was the enemy being confronted. But this is a topic for another article.
Valeria Z. Nollan is professor emerita of Russian studies at Rhodes College. She was born in Hamburg, West Germany; she and her parents were Russian refugees displaced by World War II. Her books and articles on Russian literature, cinema, religion, and nationalism have established her as an internationally recognized authority on topics relating to modern Russia. Between 1985-present she has made twenty-six extended research trips to Europe, the Soviet Union, and Russia. She has given lectures at major institutions of higher learning in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia; Havana, Cuba; Rome, Italy; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and London, UK, among other cities. Her latest book-length publication is Holocaust of the Noble Beasts and Other Works (Seattle: Goldfish Press, 2020), a collection of poetry and essays that reflect her concerns about the worldwide suffering of animals, the degradation of the environment, and the necessity of beauty, art, and music for the survival of humanity.
[vi] Guy Mettan, Creating Russophobia: From the Great Religious Schism to Anti-Putin Hysteria (Atlanta, GA: Clarity Press, 2017).