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by John Helmer, Moscow 

The shooting-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in July 2014 was an operation the US-appointed regime in Ukraine intended for the purpose of drawing the NATO alliance into military intervention in the Donbass. It failed, but the Dutch keep trying.  

The Navalny Novichok of August 2020 is an operation in Berlin intended to draw the NATO alliance into the German election campaign to ensure the outcome remains loyal to NATO and the US. This operation hasn’t failed yet.

It won’t if the retired chief British bureaucrat and supervisor of the intelligence services and war machine, Baron Sedwill (lead images), has anything to say about it. Last week he said quite a lot. He explained that “naivety” towards Russia is “probably mistaken”. When he discovered the Russians had attempted to assassinate Sergei Skripal with Novichok in March 2018, he says he was an “advocate for muscular reprisal”. This included “a series of other discreet measures including…covert measures as well, which obviously I can’t talk about. The Russians know that they had to pay a higher price than they had expected for that operation.”

Because he wasn’t asked, the British baron didn’t explain why  his discreet,  covert and high-price muscle moves against Russia in 2018 failed to deter a Russian repeat of their Novichok operation just two years later.

Either that makes the Navalny Novichok a successful move on the part of the Russians, to show how puny the muscles of Sedwill and the NATO alliance have proved to be.  Or else the Navalny Novickok is an Anglo-German operation intended to provoke the pro-NATO, pro-US faction in Berlin into using discreet, covert and high-price muscle against their German critics and rivals.  

The last NATO secretary-general to represent a country that has managed to fight a war in Europe without capitulation in the first weeks were George Robertson, the British candidate who was in the post between 1999 and 2004; and the German Manfred Wörner,  who died in the job in 1994. The others have been sinecurists, losers and quislings — Dutch, Belgians, Italians, a Spaniard, a Dane, and currently a Norwegian, Jens Stoltenberg. He ought to have been replaced in 2020. But the US and the two warfighting European states could only decide whom they didn’t want in the job – that was Radoslaw Sikorski, the Anglo-American Pole.  So they decided to extend Stoltenberg’s 4-year term by two more years.    The Norweg goes for good in September 2022.

The campaign to replace him has already started with announcements in London that the British pick is Mark Sedwill, the Cabinet Secretary and National Security Adviser who was pushed into retirement a few weeks ago.

In interviews last week with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Rupert Murdoch’s Times, which he conducted on the deck of a Royal Navy aircraft carrier, Sedwill has declared himself raring to go, with White House support. “The Western Alliance needs American leadership,” he declared to the BBC. “The Western Alliance functions most effectively if there is strong  American leadership of it”.

Source: BBC

Germany, the other European power which has demonstrated the means and the preference to attack rather than defend, has yet to field its opponent against Sedwill. This is because the obvious one, Ursula von der Leyen — like Wörner, a German defence minister – was put into the more useful and independent job of President of the European Commission in 2019; independence there means independence of the US, which is a disqualification for the NATO job.

Berlin, July 17, 2019 – Chancellor Angela Merkel (right) passed the European presidency to Ursula von der Leyen (centre) and the German defence ministry to Annegret Kramp-Karabauer (left). About von der Leyen’s Navalny operation remarks, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Minister Sergei Lavrov attacked her by name, saying on October 14: “They have told us that we have not yet matured sufficiently to be a geopolitical partner of the EU, as [President of the European Commission] Ursula von der Leyen noted recently… Our relations will hardly be good in the foreseeable future, and not through our fault.” On October 22, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, Maria Zakharova, attacked Kramp-Karabauer by name: “We consider these appeals from a high-ranking German official as a direct interference in the internal affairs of the Republic of Moldova. Her assertions of the link of the choice in favour of Ms Sandu with the country’s European future are beyond the pale and cannot be qualified as anything other than an attempt at the little-disguised blackmail of Moldovan voters. We consider such statements unacceptable because they contradict universally accepted international practice.”  On the evening of the same day, President Vladimir Putin avoided the opportunity to identify the anti-Russian faction in German politics when invited  during his speech to the Valdai Club.  

Until next spring’s election for the head of the Christian Democratic Union is decided, and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s successor goes to national election in October 2021, NATO is the last thing on German minds.

At least it was until the second allied Novichok operation began on August 20. That became a German problem when the self-declared target of the operation, Alexei Navalny, was flown from a hospital in Omsk to a hospital in Berlin on August 22. Only after he arrived at the latter was the evidence of Novichok discovered by three of Sedwill’s counterparts in Berlin – Bruno Kahl, head of the Federal Intelligence Service (BND); Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, German  Defence Minister; and Heiko Maas, the Foreign Minister.

The role they have played in converting the paucity of evidence of Novichok into the conviction of another Russian poisoning operation has been spelled out here. The British role in the operation – a “discreet” one, to use the Sedwill term – can be followed in the movements between London, Tomsk, and Berlin of Maria Pevchikh, Navalny’s British adviser and bottle carrier.

Seated on the poop deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth in Portsmouth harbour, Sedwill began his warm-up against Russia for the BBC. “[BBC] Although he was national security adviser until very recently, he suggests the UK government was ‘probably mistaken’ in parts of its approach to Russia and China, warning against naivety in handling authoritarian regimes. And, speaking to the BBC as he opened a defence conference, the Atlantic Future Forum, he called for American leadership to make western alliances work… [Sedwill] ‘The Western Alliance needs American leadership…the Western Alliance functions most effectively if there is strong  American leadership of it……’”

Sedwill stumbled over the BBC’s anti-Trump question: “Has that [American leadership of NATO] been missing in the last few years?” Sedwill: “It’s been umm err it’s been ummm ahhh errr more up and down in the last few years” (Min 0:51).

Hours later Sedwill, still sitting on the Navy’s newest and largest dreadnought,  struck directly at his Russian target for The Times. The published headline reads: “‘We always hit back hard. Russia paid a high price for Salisbury poisonings.’” Read the text excerpts  without having to pay Murdoch a royalty.  

Source: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/

“He is said to have begun his career as an intelligence officer in MI6, something that he has never confirmed, before going on to hold senior roles in the Foreign Office, becoming Britain’s ambassador to Afghanistan, the Home Office’s permanent secretary as it battled Islamist terrorism, Theresa May’s national security adviser in No 10, and then simultaneously cabinet secretary for two years under her and then Mr Johnson.”

“…he helped steer the May and then Johnson minority governments through the Brexit wars, Donald Trump’s presidency and the first weapons-grade nerve agent attack mounted on British soil. “It was a pretty intense tenure of the office.”

“…Presiding over the annual Anglo-American get-together of military and corporate figures is one of several roles Mr Johnson has given him. Organising next year’s G7 summit that the prime minister will host is another…”

“…the tie he chose for his first TV interview with the BBC this week was the dark green of the Special Forces Club, of which he is president…”

“… security remains Lord Sedwill’s biggest passion, and it is the subject he talks about most fluently. No country dominated his working hours more than President Putin’s resurgent Russia. The Salisbury novichok attack on Sergei Skripal, the MI6 double agent, also happened on his watch, in March 2018.”

“He is a strong advocate of muscular reprisal. ‘They are operating in what the aficionados call ‘grey space’, that gap between normal state relations and armed conflict, with cyberattacks, information warfare and disruption campaigns. ‘It is important that we are capable of manoeuvring in the grey space, in that zone, and doing so effectively. We can’t leave the initiative to our adversaries.’”

“Britain declared its cyberoffensive capability several years ago. So isn’t it deployed on Russia in retaliation? ‘The fact you don’t see that we use it doesn’t mean we don’t, because we wouldn’t necessarily talk about those things.’”

“… ‘We seek to impose a price, usually a price greater than one they might have expected when we believe it is right and necessary. So after the Salisbury attack, first use of chemical weapons against a country in Europe in a century, we retaliated in visible ways. We expelled the entire Russian intelligence network in the UK. But we also took a series of other discreet measures including tackling some of the illicit money flows out of Russia, and covert measures as well, which obviously I can’t talk about. The Russians know that they had to pay a higher price than they had expected for that operation.’”

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