By Sara Corcoran, RLn Columnist
Vladimir Putin must be a very happy man. He has a lot to be thankful for, including: a new term as Russian President; his image as a swashbuckling, anti-Western superhero is cemented; his gambit to confuse the American electorate to the point that it no longer has a baseline definition of truth has been a success; and his former spooks and enemies are “retiring” early. So, if you were are part of the Vienna Spy Swap of 2010 (and alive), an oligarch who has fallen out of Putin’s favor or represent an existential threat to the office of the US President ― cooperating or unknowingly providing material information to the Special Counsel’s Investigation ― you need to fear Putin’s unforgiving revenge and visit the nearest FBI field Office. Either that or head on over to Lego-land as soon as possible. Putin’s list is growing and he is just getting started.
With the success of the American disinformation war under his belt, Putin has a new action item of his agenda: eliminate the perceived enemies of the Russian State.
While en route to visit the graves of his wife and son (who both died in “car crashes”), Sergei Skripal and his daughter,Yulia, were exposed to Novichok, a Russian nerve agent. Both have emerged from critical condition after they were found unconscious on a bench in Salisbury, England on March 4, 2018. Putin’s beta testing of military grade Novichok outside Russia is extremely dangerous. Normally, Putin’s assassins will strangle, poison using conventional means , cause heart attacks, or arrange car accidents, but it now seems that Putin, his aggressive behavior unchecked by a passive United States, is on to a new phase of temerity.
So what is Novichok and why is it so dangerous? The nerve agent was once classified as chemically similar to VX ( but 5 to 8 times more lethal), which was recently used to kill Kim Jong Nam. However, its makeup and organization of hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen atoms makes it far more deadly. Former Russian scientist, Vil Mirzayanov, who once worked with the agent and has spoken out about its structure publicly, has likely made it possible for other Western governments, especially the UK,to identify the agent as uniquely Russian.
So while Putin continues to deny any involvement in the attempted murders of Sergei and Yulia Skirpal, he is also sending a message to the rest of the world: No one is safe. I can reach you wherever you are and I am coming for you. Rumors indicate that up to 20 British citizens were peripherally affected as they came into contact with airborne nerve gas particles. Putin obviously was willing to risk this secondary exposure of British nationals.
Last week’s strangulation of Nikolai Glushkov, the close friend of murdered oligarch, Boris Berezovsky, is another indicator that Putin is prepared to ratchet up his contract killings in the UK, possibly expanding operations to the United States. The mysterious demise of Russian diplomat, Vitaly Churkin, ambassador to the United Nations in New York City may be a hint of things to come. Numerous parties should be quaking in their boots and taking precautionary measures. Russian movements in and out of the UK, its NATO allies, and the United States should be carefully scrutinized. The names on the list below are hypothetical targets of Putin’s Black List and should immediately acquire round the clock security.
Putin’s Black List Expanded:
Surviving Members of the Vienna Spy Swap of 2010:
Alexander Zaporozhsky, Igor Sutyagin, Gennady Vasilenko
Creators of Novochik:
Vil Mirzayanov and Vladimir Uglev
Potential Mueller Witnesses Who can link Trump to Putin:
Paul Manafort-Enemy of Oleg Deripaska to whom he owes money and is a risk to Putin by disclosing secret Russian money transfers;
Carter Page -Former Merrill Lynch employee who has amassed large portion of his 610 million fortune partnering with a Russian partner;
Potential Mueller witnesses who can link data manipulation to Wikileaks and Guccifer 2.0:
Chris Wylie- formerly of Cambridge Analytica: Whistleblower; Architect of Cambridge Analytica psychographic algorithms used in the Trump campaign
Professor Alexander Kogan of Cambridge University, on payroll of St Petersburg University
Magnitsky Act Proponents
Doug Browder- Former CEO of Hermitage Capital & helped pass the Magnitsky Act.
While Putin’s Pol Pot impulses thuggish behavior plays well to his Muscovite base, we in the United States and our British cousins grow more suspicious and weary of Putin’s intentions, spy games, and influence over our Commander in Chief. Should Putin expand his tactics to US soil and potentially US nationals, Mr. Putin will have overplayed his hand. Comrade Putin, accept the fact you will never have the “special relationship” enjoyed by the US & UK. Even if our President is misguided when it comes to attributing bad intentions to his “best pal” Putin, thank goodness our intelligence agencies are keenly focused on his expansive conduct . However, for the first time, their efforts may not be enough and the United States may have to rely on its NATO partners to do the heavy lifting in checking and isolating Putin. No country will ever want a special relationship with you, Mr Putin, and, fortunately, our past loyalty to our allies will not be forgotten.