Analysis: With Russian spy case are we headed to a global war?

April 13, 2018

Russian interference in UK, European countries, America and the Middle East is becoming a major danger for world peace. Evidence is also surfacing on the accusations that Russia interfered with the US Elections 2016. Aside from this, deteriorating relations between European countries and Russia is a big reason for Russian interventions in the Ukraine. Things are taking a turn for the worse.

Syria is embroiled in a war and it got worse with Russian involvement in Syria. A very important tweet came from Donald Trump in which he said that right now relations between the US and Russia are worse than they have ever been. Things were not even this bad during the Cold War.

And a new dispute means that UK and Russian ties are extremely fraught. The reason is the attempted murder of a former Russian spy and his daughter. On March 4, a nerve agent was used on Sergei Skripal and Yulia Skripal. They were found half dead. Two days ago the daughter was released but Sergei Skripal is still being treated.

Skripal is a former Russian military intelligence officer. And he became a double agent for Mi6. He was accused of helping Mi6 catch Russian spies and this was proven later on as well.

In December 2006, the Russian Federal Security Service arrested Skripal and gave him 13 years for treason. In a spy swap program, Skripal was sent back to the UK and he was living there from 2010. And there was the attempt to kill him and his daughter on March 4.

The British have accused Russia which has denied the allegations, saying they are baseless. At the last UN Security Council meeting, Russia’s representative threatened that the UK was playing with fire and would regret it. Diplomatic ties deteriorated between the UK and Russia.

The UK and its 24 allies have told 150 Russian diplomats to leave. The UK sent 23, America 60 and Ukraine 13. Russia reacted: America’s 60 and the UK’s 50 diplomats have been suspended by Russia. There are fears that communication could be completely broken off. The UK declared that its royal family and ministers would not be going to watch the World Cup either.

Moeed Yusuf discussed the threat to world peace due to this conflict in SAMAA's current affairs talk show 'Awaz' on April 12.

The diplomatic tensions we see between the UK and Russia, do you think it is just because of the attempted murder of the Skripals? Or were there other reasons?

Moeed Yusuf: We need to step back and look at global politics and where they are headed for larger states.

During the Cold War, there was a debate on the Super Powers competition. The leaders of the big powers competed with each other. There are conflicts and interests. That business ended with the end of the Cold War. But now we are seeing, for the first time, a Great Power competition in nearly two to two and a half decades. It is very clear that America, Britain and western countries have gone on to one side and Russia is, Putin is, very clearly doing power projection. Places where Russia had withdrawn from, it is trying to exert its influence there again. There is, in this whole affair of throwing out the diplomats, a disagreement on one point. The real thing is that these Great Powers are moving into a competition. And Europe’s problem has always been that it is Russia’s backyard. There is Eastern Europe and the problem with the Ukraine. And I feel that the competition will grow as will the tensions. Because Russia’s intentions are clear; they are not about to back down.

Shahzad Iqbal: This Skripal attempted murder was met with a strong response; 150 diplomats were thrown out. Russia has also reacted severely.

Moeed Yusuf: Just as I was saying, this is not about one incident. This is one we know about. There are many things we do not know about. There was a British spy incident in which they were poisoned etc etc. There are many incidents, we know of just a few. And these things have been going on for a while. And Western countries believe that the cyber attacks, hacking, that they have been facing, they believe there is Russian involvement. We see that not only in politics and the US election, but security breaches in a way compromise Western security. We are no longer living in a time when you have wars fought by big nuclear powers. All countries are trying to understand these new tools and how much potential and power they have. But anyway, Russia has shown that these tools can be used. And I think there was a breakdown so that is why I think there was such a reaction.

Shahzad Iqbal: Ok. So you have said that it seems like Russia should back down. We see its interference in the US, UK, Ukraine… tell us, with all this in front of us, what is the danger to world peace?

Moeed Yusuf: Ah, first the thing is, where is there peace in the world? Wherever you look, unfortunately, there is violence, war, proxy wars, and like in the case of North Korea we just saw... So, unrest is all over the place, but as far as South Asia and this region is concerned, I can’t say there is global war but there is an active proxy war by global powers. Take Syria. Russia is there, America is there, Turkey is there, indirectly Iran, Saudi Arabia, Israel. So this kind of situation is what big wars come out of. This is what happened with the Cold War. The US and USSR had for a long time competed and had decided for a long time that they would not fight in some areas; they would not fight in Europe, in America’s backyard, Russia’s backyard. But in Asia and Africa, to a large extent proxy wars ran. Afghanistan’s matter is foremost in our minds. In this situation we do not know where the red line has been drawn, for the US, America and Russia, and this is the biggest danger.

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