Update (1415ET): Another diplomat condemns the poisoning of Navalny.
- EU'S BORRELL SAYS EU CONDEMNS POISONING OF ALEXEI NAVALNY
- BORRELL SAYS CHEMICAL WEAPONS USE BREACH OF INTERNATIONAL LAW
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Update (1227ET): After the German government claimed that Moscow was likely involved in Navalny's "poisoning" with Novichok, the UK and the US have jumped on the bandwagon.
Merkel delivered an "unusually strong" statement.
Worth watching: Merkel on the Navalny poisoning. An unusually strong and direct statement by the German Chancellor directed at Moscowpic.twitter.com/fG1jCjPL3a— Marcel Dirsus (@marceldirsus) September 2, 2020
In the UK, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Moscow has some explaining to do.
- UK'S RAAB: `DEEPLY CONCERNED' ABOUT NAVALNY POISONING
- RAAB: RUSSIA HAS `CLEAR CASE TO ANSWER' ON NAVALNY POISONING
- RAAB: U.K. TO WORK WITH ALLIES ON RESPONSE TO POISONING
The US blasted the poisoning as "completely reprehensible.
- NAVALNY'S POISONING IS COMPLETELY REPREHENSIBLE, U.S. SAYS
Meanwhile, Moscow has officially denied any involvement in whatever happened to Navalny. But that hasn't quieted speculation.
The fact that a Novichok-class poison can be traced back to Moscow is a feature, not a bug, in this Navalny thing.— Dan Kaszeta (@DanKaszeta) September 2, 2020
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Update (1055ET): The German government is convinced that the Novichok poisoning job couldn't have been accomplished without the Kremlin's involvement.
- MERKEL BLOC: NOVICHOK ATTACK ONLY POSSIBLE WITH KREMLIN HELP
Navalny has many enemies among Russia's oligarchs. Russian experts have warned that simply "blaming Putin" was jumping to a conclusion.
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The saga of Alexei Navalny's latest alleged "poisoning" is evolving into the world's most boring spy novel.
On Wednesday afternoon in Berlin, the German government announced that doctors at the hospital in the capital city where Navalny is reportedly still being treated have determined that he was indeed poisoned.
Per the AP, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement that testing done at a special German military laboratory had found "proof" of a “a chemical nerve agent from the Novichok group."
The UK's conclusions about the poisoning of the Skripals led to a significant deterioration in relations between Russia and the West, and it has been cited as one reason why the US and Russia have struggled to re-negotiate critical arms control treaties. One International group later questioned the UK's conclusions about Skripal.
For those who aren't familiar, Novichok is the same Soviet-era nerve agent purportedly used to poison Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia (and a handful of other collateral victims). Readers might remember that both Skripal and his daughter survived that attack.
A few days ago, Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson became the latest Western leader to wildly jump on the bandwagon when he tweeted that Navalny had been poisoned, and implied that the Kremlin was likely behind it. This despite journalists' pleas for leaders not to jump to conclusions that this too was "Putin's fault".
As far as the world knows, Navalny is still alive, and is expected to pull through. He was allegedly poisoned once before (just over a year ago) after being imprisoned in Moscow. Though Russian officials disputed the facts in that incident, too. Moscow has denied any involvement in or knowledge of any attack. Russian doctors said they found industrial chemicals on Navalny's hands and hair, but blamed his sickness on an autoimmune condition.
We can just imagine Putin's henchmen's logic: "let's use that super deadly Novichok that would clearly link this to the Kremlin as opposed to the 100 other ways to fuck someone up"
Germany added that it would be sharing its findings with the US, NATO and its EU compatriots. The news hit the ruble, sending it lower against the dollar.
Novichok was infamously used to poison former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain back in 2018. Novichok is a cholinesterase inhibitor. It is "part of a class of substances" that doctors at the Charite hospital reportedly originally identified on Navalny. Russian doctors who treated Navalny insisted that they had ruled out poisoning.
Merkel spokesman Seibert said the German government will inform its partners in the European Union and NATO about the test results. He said that it will consult with its partenrs in light of the Russian response “on an appropriate joint response."
Navalny initially fell ill during a flight from Siberia to Moscow, forcing his plane to land, where he was treated at a hospital in Omsk. His Russian doctors initially resisted requests for Navalny to be transferred, but later assented, and he was flown - while still in a coma - to the Charite Hospital in Berlin.
Russian media outlet Sputnik News just reported that Berlin didn't share its findings with Russia, a sign of disrespect which suggests that another round of Western sanctions might be in the offering.
Or at the very least, we may see another wave of diplomat resignations, like we saw during the Skripal fiasco.
Merkel will reportedly deliver a statement on the "poisoning" later on Wednesday.
But if the Europeans come at him with another round of sanctions, Putin could simply block Nordstream, dealing Merkel's party a serious blow as it scrambles to chart a post-Merkel future.