'A Russian spy and his daughter have been poisoned on British soil and the clamour is now growing, in politics and the media, for Theresa May and her government to blame the Kremlin. Unless the prime minister really does have firm information that the Russian state planned and carried out the attack, she should resist this pressure and the accompanying demands that the UK retaliate for a crime that is still under investigation.
Vladimir Putin is an authoritarian leader, who rebuilt a state that can be antagonistic and provocative, but it’s become exceptionally difficult to untangle well-founded allegations against Moscow from a daily onslaught of poorly evidenced, anti-Russian innuendo. There is a longstanding British tradition, dating back to at least the nineteenth century, of blaming Russia for almost everything and a failure to try to understand that country’s worldview has allowed relationships to deteriorate to the point that an objective assessment of the Skripal incident may not even be possible.
Since it emerged that Sergei and Yulia Skripal were poisoned by a ‘nerve agent’ in Salisbury, there has been a profusion of commentary suggesting that the Russian state is almost certainly behind the attack. Curiously, journalists who live and work in Russia are more cautious. In The Independent, Ollie Carroll portrays a more complicated picture, observing that Mr Skripal has many possible enemies who may have planned an assassination, without receiving an order directly from the Kremlin.
The journalist and author Marc Bennetts, who covers Russia for The Times and The Guardian, points out inaccuracies, inconsistencies and mistranslations finding their way into British reports. They’re not particularly difficult to find.'
Read more: Theresa May should ignore the pressure to punish Russia before she knows all the facts
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