back to article Ex-GCHQ boss: All the ways to go after Russia. Why pick cyberwar?

Former boss at Brit electronic spy agency GCHQ, Robert Hannigan, has called for the application of "unexplained wealth orders" and economic sanctions against Russia rather than cyber attacks. Appearing on Radio 4's flagship Today programme this morning (Tuesday from 2:20-2:25), Hannigan said starting a cyber-conflict against …

  1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Tougher sanctions

    Cut off their supply of Dutchy Original shortbread biscuits - that'll teach em

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

      Re: Tougher sanctions

      That there is better shortbread out there at lower prices?

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
        Devil

        Re: Tougher sanctions

        Is there such a thing as better shortbread? I thought that after the second mouthful it simply absorbed all the moisture in your body, leaving you a dried-out husk.

        Perhaps we should ship more of it to Russia? Weaponised Biscuits.

        Well they were a great punk band anyway...

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: Tougher sanctions

          Apparently we're taking a really hard line.

          We've sent 23 Russian diplomats home, and won't be going to watch the footie. Putin must be quaking in his boots now.

          1. John Presland

            Re: Tougher sanctions

            We must remember that the Great in Great Britain is there not to mark our magnificence but rather to distinguish us from Lesser Britain, now known in English as Brittany.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Tougher sanctions

            One needs to ask - Why the heck have we allowed these 'diplomats' (apparently spies) to reside in the UK for all these years anyway? Call me stupid, but when you find a spy, deport or arrest, dont leave them purveying secrets for years. I fail to understand the ineptness of our Government and Secret Services every single day they exist, and do nothing about 'spies' until they need a political weapon (the public will think we are big and strong of we toss em out NOW).

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Tougher sanctions

          "I thought that after the second mouthful it simply absorbed all the moisture in your body, leaving you a dried-out husk".

          You sound as if you have been eating VERY cheap, nasty ersatz shortbread.

          The proper stuff is made with plenty of butter, and literally (and I do mean "literally") melts in your mouth. The only thing you can do to improve the experience is to drink a wee dram of single malt with it.

      2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Gimp

        "we are not outside the international rules of civilised nations and we don't want to be,""

        Except when it comes to the wholesale surveillance of all electronic communications used by a UK subject in the UK of course.

        As for these "unexplained wealth" confiscation thinggies how many of those exiles are fiends of 'ol Dobby?

        As other commentators have noted some UK financial institutions are deeply in the hole to Russian money and of course post Brexit the UK will need all the "friends" it can get.

        Who wouldn't choose now, with the British government in maximum chaos, to administer a little post-departure discipline and remind all currently serving IO's that Dobby does not forgive and he does not forget.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: "we are not outside the international rules of civilised nations and we don't want to be,""

          John Smith,

          I don't think Dobby's mates are the ones living in London. Though apparently some of them do send their kids to our public schools and universities - but presumably the ones on the international sanctions lists don't.

          However obviously a lot of their cash is invested in the West. London, Paris, New York, Cyprus, Malta wherever. We could have a serious go at that. Bit of judicious hacking / snooping etc.

          I don't think any major UK financial institutions are in the hole to Russia though. There are some that have major loans and share positions from the Middle East. Russia's economy isn't that big, and unlike many other disproportionate oil exporters they were spending heavily even at the end of the oil price boom - so they don't have a huge sovereign wealth fund to buy corporate influence. They do have a bunch of oligarchs with large foreign investments, but that's on a much smaller scale.

        2. veti Silver badge

          Re: "we are not outside the international rules of civilised nations and we don't want to be,""

          @John Smith: please rid yourself of the idea that post-Brexit, Britain will be desperate to be Russia's friend. Granted it will need friends, but you'd have to be desperate indeed to bend over for Russia.

          We all like to moan about America, but for all their faults - even with the Dumpster in charge - they're still better than the Russians. (So far. If the Democrats are fool enough to give him a second term, I guess that would probably change.)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "we are not outside the international rules of civilised nations and we don't want to be,""

            @veti and "please rid yourself of the idea that post-Brexit, Britain will be desperate to be Russia's friend"

            Britain has never had any problem getting into bed with anyone so long as there was money to be made

            As to which is better Russia or the US then points to consider are which is the bigger oppressive police state, which provides the most social welfare and which has a leader who was actually voted into office. There are many other points but the difference between the US and Russia at it's worst is now so slight, as not to be worth mention. On the article's issue the US has also assassinated people outside of their borders so this is all just pot and kettle to distract from the real issue that the UK has no power to actually do anything but follow US policy.

            That the reprecussions of the UK "mouthing off", to curry favour from the US, are going to hit us first goes without saying, given the current Government has made certain that no one has our back and we are all bark no bite at all.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "we are not outside the international rules of civilised nations and we don't want to be,""

          ...and the sale of arms to somewhere we like.

    2. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Tougher sanctions

      A good stiff talking to by Our Man in Moscow, and perhaps a demand for all those unpaid Embassy parking tickets that RBKC issued. That should sort these blighters out.

      Oh, and if they do want reprisals then they can fire Nigel Farage, Alex Salmond and Stan Collymore from their positions at RT. I think that we could live with that.

      1. Pete 2 Silver badge

        Re: Tougher sanctions

        > A good stiff talking to by Our Man in Moscow

        That might work .... if Boris Johnson was made the ambassador.

        But apart from a stern talking-to and an angry glare there is nothing much we can do that wouldn't open up the UK to tougher reprisals.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Tougher sanctions

          "there is nothing much we can do that wouldn't open up the UK to tougher reprisals."

          Unless the UK complies with international law and provides Russia with a sample of the claimed chemical agent within 11 days of the event then they'll be legally justified in claiming it's all a propaganda campaign.

          At which point I suspect the gloves will come off.

      2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Tougher sanctions

        Who says that's all that's going to happen?

        I'm sure we won't be going too much further. There's not much we can do that doesn't have bad consequences we want to avoid.

        We'll try to use the OPCW - as this would be an undeclared stockpile. Apparently the point of these novichok was supposedly about using pre-cursor chemicals that weren't on the prohibited list. Though I don't know why, as the Soviet Union had access to oil, so ought to have been able to make its own - as it did with other chemical weapons they held. But that could lead to investigations and maybe be a reason for / excuse for sanctions that are sector specific.

        We could also have some diplomatic fun-and-games trying to pin some of the blame for Syrian chemical attacks on Russia. The Russians had a big presence at that airbase that Trump attacked with missiles after a chemical attack last year. Supposedly it was launched from there, in which case the Russians may have known about it, or even been assisting.

        All that is important as it's not something you announce as a retaliation - but we probably need to try and redraw the red lines on use of chemical weapons. Letting Syria get away with it was always a bad idea, and trying to build some international consensus on this to deter future use would be a sensible diplomatic aim. But that's effort that will take years, and long diplomatic discussions and working groups.

        Also she talked about hunting down Russian state money. This might not be a threat, it might be hard to impossible. Or the UK government may choose to do nothing. But this is where spies and maybe the odd cyber attack could be helpful. Many of the people around Putin are already under sanctions because of Ukraine. If we put a team of MI6, police and GCHQ people on hunting their money we could seriously upset them - in a way that would personally hurt and be very hard to publicly retaliate for. This would be one of the best avenues to pursue - but is not going to be public, or bear fruit for months/years.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Tougher sanctions

          "Also she talked about hunting down Russian state money."

          According to mafia researchers, the UK (more specifically, the City of London) is the world capital of money laundering, handling more of the dirty stuff than every other location combined and by a large multiple.

          There's no way that can be happening without govt knowledge and one of the downsides of allowing it is that going after some dirty money might result in information showing how much the UK government knew about might start coming out, making the Panama papers look minor.

          These russian assassinations are their version of a horse's head in the bed, but it's not just a warning being given to the ex-russian civil servants living here. It's also to the bankers handling dirty money and those who've been turning a blind eye to it.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Tougher sanctions

      Invent a non-alcoholic Vodka and get the UN to pass a resolution that you can't keep bears as pets.

      I think that covers my stereotype quota for today.

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: Tougher sanctions

        Increase tariffs on furry hats and dashcams.

        1. John Presland

          Re: Tougher sanctions

          Brexit! Brexit! Give us Brexit and we can do this!

    4. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

      Re: Tougher sanctions

      Blocking Mercedes sales would be pretty darn painful for the Russian elite. As that'd mean cooperation with Germany, it's not very likely though.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Tougher sanctions

        "Blocking Mercedes sales would be pretty darn painful for the Russian elite. "

        The vast majority of such sales go as exports from the USA, so you'd have a hard time stopping them.

        1. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

          Re: Tougher sanctions

          No, you'll not find many Mercs in Russia that are imported from US. Most models come straight from suburbs of Stuttgart. ML series being a notable exception, these have their production volumes split between US and Austria.

  2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    has called for the application of "unexplained wealth orders"

    Bingo. Start with the mob living in Kensington and Chelsea.

    By the way - every Russian or anyone with honest business interests related to Russia will only applaud you for that.

    The problem is - that mob is one of the biggest Conservative sponsors rivalled only by the Qatari. So do not expect anything to happen here: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/mar/12/tory-links-russia-saudi-links-corbyn-spy-extremism

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Many (or even most) of those people are in London because they either don't like the Putin government - or don't want to live in Russia because it's not a great place to live. so exactly what good would targetting them do? They're not Putin's supporters, so why would he care if we sling them out?

      Plus you sort of need reasons to confiscate peoples' property or throw them out of the country. That's why our system is better than the current one in Russia

      After all, this is one of the reasons why Putin behaves this way. He can no longer tell people that his lot are in power because they're brilliant at stabilising the economy after the chaos of the Yeltsin years, because the economy's been doing badly and corruption has ramped up to similarly extraordinary levels. So now he has to wrap himself in the flag instead.

      Many of Putin's closes allies are under travel bans, so they aren't in Kensington. If they were, they wouldn't be running Russia, and we wouldn't have so much of a problem with them.

      Now Putin's own regime and his own supporters also keep their money abroad. Because they also don't trust the system. So they would be a legitimate and sensible target. If we can track their assets to London, then we can seize them. London and New York are the financial capitals of the world, so some of that money is likely to be there. But can we prove it? Lots of Russian money could be elsewhere, such as Cyprus or in fact anywhere else. If I were close to Putin my money would be hard to access for the US and UK government, given that they've been under some financial sanctions since the Crimea annexation. And many Russian companies have struggled to borrow in the West in the last couple of years, since people were nervous there would be even harsher sanctions in future.

      An aggressive use of things like unexplained wealth orders might have some effect though.

      With global cooperation we could do more here. But that's hard. Many EU countries want to reduce the post-Crimea sanctions, not increase them. And there was no support for the UK after the Litvinenko murder, so I'm not sure if there'll be much more now.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        With global cooperation we could do more here. But that's hard. Many EU countries want to reduce the post-Crimea sanctions, not increase them.

        In large part because the EU's energy policy has made the entire continent dependent upon imported gas, which in broad brush terms means choosing between unsavoury middle east regimes exporting LNG or the unsavoury Russian regime.

        The EU failed to put any value on security of gas supplies, and now they're beholden to these loathsome countries. Even with the high volumes of gas storage of some EU nations, that's not enough to dramatically change the nature of Europe's energy dependence upon Russia.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Ledswinger,

          To be fair to the EU - they have learned quite a big lesson about gas security. There's still a lot more LNG capacity to come on stream, and the US are also building export terminals. Plus there's been a lot of interconnector pipework going in, so that gas can be shipped from those countries with LNG capacity (or their own supplies) to those without. Thus cutting off the Ukrainian gas (which also cuts off most of Eastern Europe) now doesn't work as there's a much greater capacity to switch.

          That even went so far as Greece and the Southern Balkans refusing to join a Russian Southstream pipeline as part of the fall-out of the annexation of Crimea.

          Admittedly Germany then did a secret deal behind everyone's back to expand Nordstream, and only admitted it at the last minute. But that's another story...

          The leaks I've read so far are that this has solidified the current EU sanctions regime, which otherwise might have been watered down, but won't get anything extra. How accurate that is, who can tell.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Admittedly Germany then did a secret deal behind everyone's back to expand Nordstream, and only admitted it at the last minute. But that's another story...

            Not just them. Read the Gasprom to Eu agreement - it leaks a number of OTHER stunts besides this one. Some of them are from countries which constantly scream that Russians are eating freshly fried children for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Quite an interesting read.

          2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
            Windows

            Meh

            There's still a lot more LNG capacity to come on stream, and the US are also building export terminals.

            Well, the UK is indeed importing LNG from Russia.

            Still, if anyone thinks shipping LNG around will somehow replace a pipline, there is a bridge or two to sell.

            Admittedly Germany then did a secret deal behind everyone's back to expand Nordstream, and only admitted it at the last minute. But that's another story...

            The Germans are not dumb enough to suffer for the beautiful eyes of the US.

            1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

              Re: Meh

              Well, the UK is indeed importing LNG from Russia.

              Gas in any form actually.

              As a result of the Gasprom agreement with the Eu ALL restrictions on transit and resale have been removed. The consequence of this is that gas in the Eu Grid does not have a defined "smell" any more. Every time UK pulls a m3 from the Eu grid it may be in fact Russian gas.

              Doubly the case at the moment because the interconnects to Norway are having issues/maintenance.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @ I ain't Spartacus: "To be fair to the EU - they have learned quite a big lesson about gas security. There's still a lot more LNG capacity to come on stream, and the US are also building export terminals. "

            The problem is end to end capacity of LNG and vulnerability of those systems. There's only so many LNG carriers, the cargoes always follow the money (so may prefer a lower gas price to deliver gas from Qatar to India because the vessel can be carrying a new cargo more quickly), the liquefaction and gasification trains are energy intensive and of fixed capacity. We've already seen suspicious pipeline "accidents" that serve the Russian agenda, there's every reason to believe that a gas import or export terminal could be disabled if that fitted a Russian attempt to freeze Europe into submission. An unfortunate shipping accident on the approaches to Milford Haven would put the largest LNG terminal in Europe (South Hook) out of action for months and block the smaller Dragon LNG terminal, or the same tactic could obstruct the Isle of Grain LNG (noting the "availability to assist" of the SS Richard Montgomery). Or if a couple of LNG carrier had unfortunate accidents either minor or major, that'd put the crimpers on the transport. And so forth - lots of opportunities for Russian troublemaking even thousands of miles away from Europe, and all in ways they've already been seen to operate.

            And that's before the necessity of contracting LNG and transport. If we start scrabbling around for LNG when it is obvious the Russians are about to stop supplies via Nordstream, that's far too late. What gas could be bought on the spot market would be astronomically expensive, and available in insufficient volumes - and then there's the need to hope that somebody was sitting around with a fully operational but uncontracted LNG tanker in winter - that's not going to happen.

            "Plus there's been a lot of interconnector pipework going in, so that gas can be shipped from those countries with LNG capacity (or their own supplies) to those without. Thus cutting off the Ukrainian gas (which also cuts off most of Eastern Europe) now doesn't work as there's a much greater capacity to switch."

            Yes, but the situation we're now in is that we're kicking off a dispute with Russia. Europe isn't self sufficient in gas, so moving it around Europe more freely doesn't help if there's not enough to go round.

            Russia didn't care if Ukraine froze to death in the first place, now they won't mind freezing a load of Europeans. In a global gas market, even if the EU embargo Russian gas, the Ruskies will still be able to sell it elsewhere (sometimes to be rebadged and then sold back as non-embargo gas). Also, if there's a big freeze, and Russia starts turning the taps off, there's no way on Earth that Germany will export their gas reserves to other countries who haven't built suitable storage facilities (and why should they?).

            The whole point of Southstream was that if it went ahead it would cement Russian control on the transport of central Asian gas to Europe. That it isn't going ahead doesn't matter because there's no high capacity alternative route, since the promotion of Southstream had already successfully stopped the Nabucco pipeline that could have given Europe access to Iranian and central Asian gas fields without Russian control.

            You're right that the EU have learned much about security of gas supply, sadly that can be summarised as that they are totally and utterly screwed because they decided against all evidence of history and all common sense that Russia was a trustworthy energy supplier.

            1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

              Ledswinger,

              You're not quite right about this. Europe collectively has a lot of gas storage. The UK, not so much, but that's because we have supplies. Our storage is only designed to make up the difference between that and what we use, but we have got access to lots of LNG.

              Russia can't just turn the lights off in the whole of Europe. If they cut Europe's supplies, it would take months to have any effect.

              The Russian government gets 30-40% of its revenue from oil and gas export taxes and can't borrow on the international markets. It would be a race as to whether their central bank reserves would run out before European gas reserves.

              And this is the nuclear option. If they do it - they'll not be able to sell gas to Europe again.

              Their economy is more dependent on Europe, than Europe's is on them. Europe could reactivate coal stations, import LNG, burn more oil etc. It wouldn't be easy, there would be a hit to GDP - but that's nothing to what it would do to the Russian economy.

              Sure, Putin could survive. But he'd have to go into full dictator mode. And it would screw up the lives of large chunks of his backers.

              Russia does not have LNG export terminals. Nor do they have pipelines to ship their gas anywhere else but Europe. Russia stops being a Great Power the moment it does that. They'll still have the nukes, but they can't even fund their current military expenditure - let alone after they've nuked their own economy.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                >Russia does not have LNG export terminals.

                What about this one?

                https://www.ft.com/content/6fc45d4e-dfed-11e7-8f9f-de1c2175f5ce

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                @I ain't Spartacus

                It ain't the nuclear option.

                Nuclear is the nuclear option :/

              3. Alan Brown Silver badge

                "Russia does not have LNG export terminals"

                China just finished export and installation of 34 giant industrial processing modules to build just such a terminal in Siberia for export to southern China and are in the process of finishing a pipeline into northern China.

                They'll be able to take 30% of Russia's gas output (almost all the Siberian exports) from Day 1 and that's less than 18 months away.

                China sees it as a temporary thing until its gets all its nukes online, but that's a 20 year project. Russia sees it as lifting dependency on european exports. Perhaps this might explain why they've been acting a little more recklessly recently.

              4. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                I ain't Spartacus: "You're not quite right about this. Europe collectively has a lot of gas storage. The UK, not so much, but that's because we have supplies. Our storage is only designed to make up the difference between that and what we use, but we have got access to lots of LNG."

                Sorry, but I've worked in this sector. You didn't notice how we came within a spit of running out in February, large industrial users were asked to reduce their consumption, and spot prices peaked? Our North Sea supplies are running out fast, our storage capability is limited and ageing, and LNG is simply not the panacea that is being made out - even without Russian interference or technical problems, LNG is a long and unreliable supply chain, and you need to order and pay ahead to guarantee delivery. The only way LNG can address security of supply issues is if the government force the energy industry to hold much larger reserves, and that probably means creating new North Sea gas storage equal to about 100% of winter demand (see below) in depleted fields, and these being filled over summer and partly used over winter. Costs of liquefaction, gasification, transportation, reinjection, and extraction would be huge - it'd require approaching half the energy content of the stored gas, so the cost of this stored gas would be huge - and it'd take about a decade to build storage capacity of that scale.

                Russia can't just turn the lights off in the whole of Europe. If they cut Europe's supplies, it would take months to have any effect.

                Unfortunately it would only take a week or two to become critical. Storage facilities don't sit fully filled against a strategic interruption, they are drawn down over the winter. That's because it is hugely expensive to maintain a gas reserve that isn't used, and the facilities benefit from use. So they are filled over summer, drawn down over winter. They're also constrained by the draw-down rate. So just because Germany has storage capacity equal to 40% of winter demand doesn't mean that they've got all that gas at their command when the music stops, nor that they could draw it down fast enough even if they wanted to supply other countries who'd not built their own. In early 2013, the UK's gas storage reserves were down to about 2% of capacity, and even Germany's enormous stores were down to 20% of capacity and France was down to 10%. With the weather creating extra demand, if external supplies had been stopped then, Europe would have run out of gas in about three days.

                The other minor problem is cost. Gas is traded, if supplies are disrupted, the price spikes. A major intra-day hiatus in winter can see prices hit £1-2 per kWh (that you're paying your gas supplier 5-7p kWh for). That rapidly causes problems for industrial users and suppliers. Just from this year's cold snap, and pre-Christmas supply interruptions a number of smaller gas suppliers have gone bust, I think more will follow.

                I'll post below a link to a recent government paper on security of gas supply. At a technical level and in terms of the detail the report is very good, it evaluates all the evidence, and then leaps to a staggering conclusion that everything is tikkety-boo. It isn't, either in the UK or Europe, although EU analysis is like the UK government - apparently there's no problem - but with Russia supplying a staggering 40% of European gas, do you believe them? I don't.

                https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/651297/gas-security-supply-assessment.pdf

            2. Alan Brown Silver badge

              "You're right that the EU have learned much about security of gas supply"

              What should have been learned was the importance of sorting out the nuclear energy supply.

        2. Anomalous Cowshed

          Unsavoury regimes

          Nowadays, every regime is an unsavoury regime.

          Corollary: No wonder sugar is such a problem in the modern world!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Many (or even most) of those people are in London because they either don't like the Putin government

        The road to hell has a sign above it. It says: "The enemy of my enemy is my friend".

        We have been through this one many times already. The name of the last well known one was Ossama Bin Laden.

        The sole difference here is that the result of a fallout from a "a pet gone rogue" scenario will not be a multi-year war of attrition in a god-forgotten country in the middle of nowhere. It may be WW3.

        By the way, by the nature of their position prior to moving here plenty of them had full access to USSR stockpile of "weapons you are not supposed to know about". Pray, tell me, what is our guarantee that none of them has brought some with them? In fact, how do you think they have managed to remain alive if they did not?

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          The road to hell has a sign above it. It says: "The enemy of my enemy is my friend".

          Huh what now?

          If they are in London because they don't want to be in Russia, what's the problem? If they're here legally and doing nothing wrong. What's this sudden attempt to have a go a community of people who've chosen to make their home here?

          Are you suggesting that we should use them as pawns or hostages in some game with the Russian government? Firstly that wouldn't be a moral thing to do, secondly what if the Russian government doesn't give a shit about them? At least if we decide to do something immoral, it should be effective.

          Looking at the ownership of property in London and the London markets might allow us to seize assets of people connected to the regime. But the regime probably don't live here. It would be odd to try to govern Russia from London, rather than Moscow.

          By the way, by the nature of their position prior to moving here plenty of them had full access to USSR stockpile of "weapons you are not supposed to know about". Pray, tell me, what is our guarantee that none of them has brought some with them? In fact, how do you think they have managed to remain alive if they did not?

          Erm, your tinfoil hat is slipping...

          Like polonium, exotic nerve agents are quite hard to come by. They're closely guarded, incredibly expensive and access to them severely limited. However the Russian government were given an opportunity to look at accidental releases of such materials and chose not to cooperate with that line of enquiry. I imagine the choice of such a weapon is deliberate. It's much easier, and cheaper, just to shoot people - or use ordinary poisons.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            If they are in London because they don't want to be in Russia, what's the problem? If they're here legally and doing nothing wrong.

            That is NOT what an UNEXPLAINED WEALTH ORDER is about. If a person is a subject to that, they are:

            1. Not legally here. They lied on their residence and/or cittizenship forms.

            2. Nothing wrong. Like theft, embezzlement, not paying taxes, etc? What else?

            Anyone who is entitled to an UNEXPLAINED WEALTH ORDER should get some. So that we do not have cases where a person who received 100k from UK government, no pension and no known sources of income buys a house which is according to the land registry 260k, a BMW and brings a daughter, wife and a son in the country. None of which have a source of income too. Anything else aside it is too f*cking expensive to clean up the after their REAL sources of income "clean" them up.

            I know, this will make Kensignton and Chelsea not the favourite place to stash stolen wealth. Shall we cry some crocodile tears for all the real estate agents lost income or something?

            1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

              You're wrong. And it's really easy to look up. An unexplained wealth order is an investigatory tool to try to force people to prove where their assets came from if they're linked with a criminal or political fun-and-games.

              The new powers of “unexplained wealth orders” (UWO) and the supporting “interim freezing orders” commence on 31 January 2018 (except they will not come into force in Northern Ireland at that time). A UWO is an investigation order issued by the High Court (Court of Session in Scotland) on satisfaction of a number of tests.

              A UWO requires a person who is reasonably suspected of involvement in, or of being connected to a person involved in, serious crime to explain the nature and extent of their interest in particular property, and to explain how the property was obtained, where there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the respondent’s known lawfully obtained income would be insufficient to allow the respondent to obtain the property. The test for involvement with serious crime is by reference to Part 1 of the Serious Crime Act 2007.

              A UWO can also be applied to politicians or officials from outside the European Economic Area (EEA), or those associated with them i.e. Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs). A UWO made in relation to a non-EEA PEP would not require suspicion of serious criminality.

              A UWO is a civil power and an investigation tool. It requires the respondent to provide information on certain matters (their lawful ownership of a property, and the means by which it was obtained). It is important to note that, as an investigation power, a UWO is not (by itself) a power to recover assets. It is an addition to a number of powers already available in POCA to investigate and recover the proceeds of crime and should therefore not be viewed in isolation.

              My source being da government

            2. This post has been deleted by its author

              1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

                Shadmeister,

                Perhaps you should have read the article more closely. Gazprom plan to sell gas to Europe and China. So they're going to be upping their capacity in order to be able to fulfill both demands and have to activate new gas fields in East Siberia that are too expensive to ship to Europe. So they're talking about spending $55 billion much of it over the next few years in order to be able to make $400 billlion over 30 years. So that's only $13bn a year sales - suddenly doesn't look like such a big number.

                As I recall from when China and Russia signed the gas deal 2 years ago, they agreed it at a fixed price that was less than Gazprom got from selling to Europe.

                Much of the European supply will also be from different gas fields, which means they'd need to spend more on inter-connector pipework - or they'd still be producing gas they couldn't sell. Russia have to sell that gas to Europe, or liquify it (more investment), or not get the money.

                Oh, and finally, this first pipeline comes on stream in 2019. So no. Russia can't play off Europe against China for at least 5-10 years, and even then only to a limited extent as they'll be fed from different supplies. Though obviously they could choose to be poorer, and cut Europe off, and just live on the Chinese money. But not for a decade.

                It's like those people who say the US are screwed because they owe China $3tn. Nope. Don't work like that. If China don't get paid, China sad - not US. Plus the US is China's biggest market, so collapsing the US economy would also destroy their own.

                This is not a James Bond novel.

                1. This post has been deleted by its author

                  1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

                    My point is, that although sanctions against Russia may be apparent, and forthcoming, there are many states that will trade with Russia.

                    Shadmeister,

                    International sanctions are almost impossible to get everyone to agree to. And even when you do, the nearby countries will always trade.

                    But Russia is massively dependend on exports of oil and gas. It has almost no capacity to export LNG and has very limited access to international capital in order to invest in it. Foreign companies who've tried to import capital into Russia have often had it stolen, and local oligarchs make sure to keep lots of their money abroad, as they don't trust the system either. The Russian government pays higher rates on short term borrowing than Greece, because nobody trusts them. They can't borrow long term.

                    So Russia will always be able to export its oil. But suffers from pathetic growth because it can't get the capital to modernise its oil infrastructure and is very vulnerable to sanctions on oil services companies - as was Iran.

                    There are only limited sanctions on capital investments in Russia, but people don't want to do it much anyway. Trust issues.

                    Putin is trying to rebalance their economy away from oil exports. But their economy is in trouble because of corruption from Putin's own cronies. It's hard to get people to build a business if local officials will randomly fine you, or take so many bribes to get the right permits that you can't make a profit. Which is why so many of Russia's middle class have buggered off abroad. Can his regime moderate their own greed sufficiently not to kill the goose that lays the golden egg? I doubt it.

                    Corruption is so bad in Russia that many large Russian companies sign contracts between each other in London. Do them under British law (not Russian), and pay to use British courts and arbitrators to settle disputes. To fix that problem means Putin first admitting his whole regime is massively corrupt and buggering up his own economy. I ain't holding my breath.

                    As for gas, they can only export to Europe at the moment, because that's where the pipes are. They're building pipes to China, but it's expensive will take several more years, and they make less profit. LNG infrastructure is also very expensive and takes years to come on stream. Where else can they export to that's in reasonable pipeline range?

                    1. This post has been deleted by its author

                      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

                        I don't buy this argument about the Russians being able to bear infinite pain. Putin doesn't have to worry about public opinion in the way Western leaders do of course. But, he does worry about it. Otherwise, why the censorship and murder of journalists and opposition figures?

                        He's never abandoned democracy, even though he's twisted and subverted it. And he's said one of the great traumas of his life was the collapse of the USSR. And that was brought down by public opinion due to the economy being consistently shit. Admittedly much worse than the Russian economy now though. But there are limits to the number of casualties he can take militarily and the economic pressure he can laugh off.

                        I wonder if he wants to torch the image of Russians in Europe to make it less attractive. A lot of the most talented young Russians will do anything to get out of the place. One reason being conscription. The Russian conscript bits of the army still don't value NCOs, and they're mostly just older short-termers. The bullying, murder and suicide rate amongst new conscripts is huge.

                        1. This post has been deleted by its author

                  2. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    @all the above: It's a pretty problem in game theory, both the Prisoner's Dilemma and the Tragedy of the Commons wrapped in one another. I'm pretty damned sure the GRU and Putin have gamed it out. Laid in a supply of peanuts, I'm not into popcorn.

                    Amateurs study tactics, professionals strategy. Generals study logistics.

          2. Pedigree-Pete
            Joke

            "It's much easier...

            and cheaper, just to shoot people - or use ordinary poisons."

            Unless the person you want rid of is Rasputin. PP

            >for 70s pop fans. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvDMlk3kSYg

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Any pesticide factory can turn out nerve agents by the ton. That's how they were discovered in the first place.

            1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

              Jack of Shadows,

              Even a Japanese cult (Aum Shinrikyo) can produce Sarin and VX. Though it's much harder to do in industrial quantities and also hard to weaponise. These Russian nerve agents are much less well known and supposedly harder to synthesize. But I'm no chemical weapons expert. I guess the governent will have to go via the OPCW as one of its urgent jobs.

          4. Alan Brown Silver badge

            "Like polonium, exotic nerve agents are quite hard to come by."

            Most "nerve agents" are variants of organophosphates - more or less the same things as we've been putting on fields as insecticides for decades - and which farmers have been accidentally killing themselves with for just as long - and they're not that hard or expensive to make, being used in quantities in WW1 along with a bunch of other nasty gasses (you can make VX in a high school lab with readily available chemicals)

            What they _are_ is illegal to use in war and given that most bans are for specific formulas rather than generalising effects, the R&D went into making versions not detectable by the other side and/or which could get past their chemical weapons filters, or makeable using binary precursors which were "safe" to handle and had longer shelf life than the active chemical (organophosphates break down fairly quickly).

            Actually using them in a battlefield is generally a bad idea. As combatants found in WW1 even steady winds change unpredictably. This is why Kim's Bro got his face wiped (no aerosol means no risk to the handlers) - and to be brutally honest if he'd been wiped with any of the more common agricultural organophosphate insecticides it would have had the same effect. Why use something specialist unless you want to send a very specific message?

            All of this assumes that an organophosphate was actually used. These are treated with Atrophin - which ambulance crews don't carry. Initial reports suggest they are only alive because they were treated onsite with Narcan(*), which tends to only work on opiod-based poisons (such as was used in the Moscow theatre seige as part of the gas cocktail that killed 170 people).

            There's far too much not being said about this whole mess and one might speculate that Russians who gravitate to living in Salisbury do so specifically because of its proximity to Porton Down and its chemical weapons rapid response unit.

            (*) Administering narcan is the virtually automatic approach to suspected overdoses as it's virtually harmless if the poison isn't a narcotic or alcohol.

          5. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Millionaires in the UK

            The laws in the UK protect those of wealth over the general population.

            Those millionaires who live beside the people they exploit in other countries have to buy in their own armies to prevent kidnap of family, theft, revenge killings etc.

            The UK provide this to those of wealth merely for the cost of the usual bribes to officals, I am surpised anyone with a few brain cells who has lived in the UK for any time was unaware of this.

            Here you can enjoy your wealth and lord it over the ignored local population with the whole state apparatus (Army, Navy, Airforce, Police, Justice, Government, health care, education you name it) to protect your interests for less than the same would cost it say South America.

      3. macjules Silver badge

        Many (or even most) of those people are in London because they either don't like the Putin government - or don't want to live in Russia because it's not a great place to live.

        Actually you might find that a lot of the properties they buy are done using what is locally known as the 'Estate Agents' Twostep" (actually specific to one particularly bent agency in Chelsea), named after the number of years you need to retain the property before you can legally sell and transfer your freshly-laundered lucre to Switzerland. Look at places like Markham Square, SW3 or Brompton Square, SW7 - they are mostly just empty properties used for money laundering.

        1. John Presland

          Give us details of this scam, please.

      4. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        "

        Plus you sort of need reasons to confiscate peoples' property or throw them out of the country. That's why our system is better than the current one in Russia

        "

        *Used to be* better. In the past 20 years there have been so many new laws introduced that we really are no better at all - look at POCA for starters. All it needs is an allegation, and the UK government can take all you money and property.

      5. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        "so exactly what good would targetting them do? "

        My question exactly.

        It only hurts Dobby if they were his friends and supporters to begin with.

        Otherwise he'll shrug in public and ROTFLMFAO at British stupidity in punishing his enemies for him.

      6. John Presland

        Reason, sadly not one that our courts would recognise, for confiscating their property and throwing them out of the country: they stole it from the Russian people.

      7. Reyter

        Russia is a very dangerous place to live for criminal elites who have engaged in money-laundering, tax evasion and more openly mafia activities. For the average Russian, especially in the European part (I have never been east of the Urals but Russians tell me it sucks) it's purely your opinion the UK is a better place to live.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "By the way - every Russian or anyone with honest business interests related to Russia will only applaud you for that".

      Including the Russian government. Those rogues left Russia precisely to avoid prosecution for their criminal acts and industrial-scale embezzlement.

      It's significant that they all headed for London, where blatant criminals are obviously welcome as long as they are rich enough.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "unwise" for him to talk about covert actions

    I agree because then they would no longer be covert. It's a good job we have people like this that have worked in high positions at GCHQ as it goes to show they are picking the people with the right stuff.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's mad when you think about it that in four days Russia goes to the polls. Not that I would ever suggest any interference from our esteemed and honest government. Though I honestly don't think any of this would make any difference.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      What's that got to do with anything? The UK government didn't get to chose the timing of this. If there's any relation to the timing of Russian elections, then that will have been the deliberate policy of chose to make this attack now. Or they didn't care. Who knows?

      Seeing as Russia doesn't have a free press, there's not much overt means of affecting the election anyway. The Russian media will only report on what it's allowed to, to give the propoganda effect the government want. To be fair, it's TV that Putin's government really care about. The press is afforded much more freedom, as its circulation is low.

      For example the US killed a hundred-odd Russian mercenaries in Syria last month. Ones that attacked a US base in the South training anti-ISIS fighters. The Syrian government have had a couple of goes at that base, they can't get at the ones in Kurdish areas.

      Putin could have used this story to ramp-up the anti-US rhetoric and provide good evidence of how them nasty Yanks are out to get him. Except the official story is that no Russian ground troops are needed in Syria, so it didn't get reported. Annexing Crimea was popular, the war in Syrian hasn't ever been.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Your right, I just found the coincidence coincidental and also odd that no one else has mentioned it in the news that I have seen. Maybe if those Russian oligarch start getting their assets frozen they might change who they want to win the election. I never said Putin planned it.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Russia is prepared to switch off domestic power in Ukraine as part of its campaign but Western countries aren't prepared to do that against Moscow because we are "ethical" and "play by different standards," Hannigan concluded.

    Yeah. Bollocks. UK (or any country for that matter) intelligence services and high moral ground. The high moral ground of Lybian renditions? The high moral ground of supporting the murderers of pregnant women and schoolchildren at Budyonovsk and Beslan? The high moral ground of supporting the disassembly of Serbian war prisoners and peasants into their component parts in Kosovo and preventing Carla Ponti from investigating it? Which one? Curious minds would like to know...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Hypocrisy and spite seems to be a trait of far too many of my English compatriots. We're masters of it. Oxbridge should be running MBAs teaching it formally.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Hypocrisy and spite

        "We're masters of it"

        Indeed, it has not been entirely without reason that the UK has oft been referred to as 'Perfidious Albion'.

        1. Peter2 Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Hypocrisy and spite

          Indeed, it has not been entirely without reason that the UK has oft been referred to as 'Perfidious Albion'.

          Indeed, great reason for that. It was a title created by Napoleon's "Le Moniteur" newspaper, which specialised in propoganda aka fake news. The title largely came about after Mr Bonaparte signed a peace treaty with the Britain. The Royal Navy was laid up and while peace was being celebrated Mr Bonaparte assembled a half million man army on the shores of france and started practicing landing exercises for crossing the little moat in the way.

          This was considered a bit off, so Britain quietly and quickly rearmed and then declared war while the French army was still on the far side of the channel. Mr Bonaparte was really, really not happy about this and ranted about us being the trecharous ones, almost as if he was trying to deflect attention away from something...

          And from the same newspaper should you consider it accurate you can read about the huge French/Spanish naval victory handily won at Trafalgar a few months later:-

          http://navalmarinearchive.com/research/trafalgar_propaganda.html

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hypocrisy and spite

          "Indeed, it has not been entirely without reason that the UK has oft been referred to as 'Perfidious Albion'."

          Important correction: England has oft been referred to as 'Perfidious Albion'.

          We Celts have been among those who most often felt the effects of that perfidy. Indeed, one reason why so many of the early American colonists were Scottish and Irish was that they were felling for their lives from the English. Or had just had all their land and property confiscated without compensation. It's not surprising they wanted to be independent of London, and it's hardly surprising if their descendants don't much like the ENGLISH.

          1. Peter2 Silver badge

            Re: Hypocrisy and spite

            Important correction: England has oft been referred to as 'Perfidious Albion'.

            Important correction: It was Great Britain up until 1807 and the United Kingdom thereafter.

            Or had just had all their land and property confiscated without compensation.

            Important correction: The land was rented, and the largely Scottish landlords decided that they'd make mindblowing amounts of money out of sheep farming, and so evicted their tenants to make space for sheep.

            1. x 7

              Re: Hypocrisy and spite

              "..............and so evicted their tenants to make space for sheep."

              In so doing increasing the average IQ of the population

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Hypocrisy and spite

            it's hardly surprising if their descendants don't much like the ENGLISH.

            They seem happy enough that the Barnett formula means England's taxpayers pay for their legions of dolees and their stagnant economies.

            But as somebody who is a descendant of the Celts (amongst others), I'm quite happy with the English - I identify more with England than with the bitter, resentful parochiality of many of my counterparts still living and whining in the hills. I suppose that's a persistent problem - everybody with some get up and go in Scotland and Wales has already got up and gone, either south/east of the border, or to the new worlds.

          3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: Hypocrisy and spite

            We Celts

            Two things:

            1. There is as much Celtic blood and heritage in England as in Wales and Scotland

            2. There is no such things as "we Celts" - they never were a monolithic block to start with.

            Lastly (and if you know your history) there's perfidy on all sides.

  6. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

    Take a leaf from the US Treasury Department?

    We could do more of what the US have started doing perhaps? Or at least thing about / legislate for / prepare for. They've got an economic sanctions cell that look at what they can do unilaterally.

    Because the US is such an important market and also one of the most important parts of global capital markets - this gives them extra power. Most global banks want to operate in New York, and make lots of lovely profit there. So you can say to them that the US is sanctioning some Iranian bank say, and that bank now has a choice. Deal with sanctioned Iranian bank and lose all the profits from trading in the US, and some clients who need you to be able to trade there - or lose the Iranian bank as a customer. So long as the costs and benefits work out right, you can really screw with Iran's financial services and targetted sectors of the economy.

    They used these powers to help persuade Iran to come to a nuclear deal. It was done in concert with the EU and others, but I believe the US sanctions went further. Another advantage being that the US has a very large oil and gas industry and Iran needed parts and expertise for that, and the US could make companies make that same choice.

    Well London is probably the global financial capital at the moment. And we have a large oil and gas services industry. We could do some of this - it would be most effective in concert with the US - but we could do some of it alone.

    We probably can't be as effective as the US, as our internal market is smaller, and people can move to New York to do business - but having control of the largest financial centre in the world has got to have some benefits. The downside being that if you use this power, you may drive business away - but used sparingly and with strict limits, it could be quite annoying to the exact people we want to annoy.

  7. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Softly Softly ..... Cause a Bank Run

    "But starting a cyber conflict - which of course we could do, we could do destructive things in cyberspace because we have great capabilities - would benefit no one. It would put us in the wrong place." .... Robert Hannigan, ex boss at Brit electronic spy agency GCHQ

    The real possibility and present reality, and therefore most likely probable problem to not be admitted publicly by UKGBNI and Allied Forces and Sources, is that they do not possess, to wield, greater capabilities. And they can even be catastrophically lacking in key fundamental abilities which be systemically necessary and strategically vital to be almightily successful against phantom foe in cyber field conflicts?

    Quite whether the Exotic and Erotic Eastern States are any better provided for, is the Colossal Catch 22 Question which will always remain unanswered whenever any apparent and/or perceived successes are touted and pimped/pumped and dumped as just lucky temporarily rendered advantages.

    In the current shenanigans climate, who be the idiots poking a hornets' nest with a blunt stick?

    And ..... to think to use wealth and money confiscation as a punishment for presumed dirty deeds done dirt cheap, militarises the global banking system and extraordinarily renders it as a legitimate target for catastrophic attack and carpet bombing with DDOServices. Educating the masses to the fact that money and banks are a very simple means of oppressive command and control to be turned on and off at the whim of a select few, is not the smartest thing to do.

  8. Milton

    Keeping the powder dry

    What Hannigan has been a little coy about is the single most important reason for not launching a cyber assault on Russia: it's in the nature of cyber weapons that they age very rapidly. Whereas a 1000lb bomb, a cruise missile or even a 300kT nuke is generally just as effective on its tenth use as on its first, a cyber weapon tends to be rapidly identified and blocked.

    So yes, we could cause a few weeks' havoc, at best, in Russia. A series of power outages, mysterious telecoms glitches, utility failures, wiped bank records would cause them serious diffculties and cost them a few billion rubles. But it wouldn't get rid of Vlad the Emailer; it almost certainly wouldn't change the minds of the Russian population, who have spent about 400 years as serfs of one kind or another; and it would mean that a bunch of one-off tools that we might really, badly need one day in a shooting war, are no longer available.

    This is the reason why the two most phenomenally dangerous cyberwar outfits on the planet (NSA and GCHQ) generally do not retaliate with cyber weapons, even against a cyber attack: because they are keeping the gunpowder dry against a time when it might really make the difference.

    As to what HMG can do about this latest unpleasantness, I do wonder whether Putin would have calculated this particular atrocity if the UK were not busy Brexiting: we are much weaker; other countries already take us much less seriously; our clout is declining rapidly; the response we can make as a Brexiting nation is not even close to the one we could have mobilised as a fully paid-up component of the EU. If Putin's policy is to pick off the enemy gang one at a time, targeting weakness, he has been masterfully clever.

    And our government, it goes without saying, continues to be mindlessly stupid.

    1. Mike Richards Silver badge

      Re: Keeping the powder dry

      Good point.

      Though: 'Whereas a 1000lb bomb, a cruise missile or even a 300kT nuke is generally just as effective on its tenth use as on its first, a cyber weapon tends to be rapidly identified and blocked.'

      There is another option - the best bits of malware get repackaged and fired back at innocent people (see ETERNALBLUE, Duqu and Flame amongst many others).

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Keeping the powder dry

      Surely if cyber weapons have a short shelf-life, all the more reason to use them? Many of them are going to be undisclosed vulnerabilities that are eventually going to get patched after all.

      So no. I'd imagine that the real reason not to do it is that Russia would retaliate, so it would be stupid. Remember they're not a genuine democracy, so buggering up their economy is unlikely to have that much effect on the government. If we start it, our voters will blame our government.

      They might do some targetted sneakiness with the spies, but then they probably do that already. But we could up the ante by trying to use our intelligence services to track down Putin's money (if he really is a multi-billionaire) and either seize it or just embarrass him.

      As to Brexit, it seems irrelevant. The EU were no help during the Litvinenko murder, when we were all cosy-cosy friends. Why would they endanger their national interests to help now, when they didn't then? Not that it's possible to know this either way. There was talk in the EU of watering down the post-Crimea sanctions. If that doesn't now happen was that because of a UK diplomatic triumph? Or was that just talk to get concessions elswhere and never would have happened?

      There might be some action via NATO (such as re-inforcing Eastern Europe) that gets announced next month that's related to this, or was on the cards anyway? How can we know?

    3. smudge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Keeping the powder dry

      What Hannigan has been a little coy about is the single most important reason for not launching a cyber assault on Russia: it's in the nature of cyber weapons that they age very rapidly.

      No. The single most important reason is that people, important people, Government people - on which side of the Atlantic I can't remember, but possibly both - have said that using offensive cyberweapons is tantamount to a declaration of war. That there is little difference between bombing somewhere and taking out their information infrastructure.

      So if we were to do that, Putin would say that we have declared war on him. And we know who will come off worse.

      Talk over the last few days of using cyberweapons has been very alarming. Just stop it, OK?

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Keeping the powder dry

        So if we were to do that, Putin would say that we have declared war on him. And we know who will come off worse.

        Yup Putin. Or everybody. Russia does not have powerful conventional forces - as compared to NATO.

        They have been starved of cash, maintenance and training for too long. There's more money being poured in now, but that takes time to percolate through the system, and the new good equipment is in very short supply.

        Obviously they have sufficient nukes to pretty much end the world though.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Keeping the powder dry

          "Yup Putin. Or everybody. Russia does not have powerful conventional forces - as compared to NATO".

          Well, that remains to be seen. Always remembering that military effectiveness cannot be measured by money spent. Russia is not going to attack anyone - unless they attack it first. And if they do, they will lose in any conventional war.

          At which point the lunatics in Washington, London and Brussels will go nuclear and we will all die.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Keeping the powder dry

      I do wonder whether Putin would have calculated this particular atrocity if the UK were not busy Brexiting: we are much weaker; other countries already take us much less seriously; our clout is declining rapidly;

      That has been happening steadily since the decline of the Empire and the Royal Navy as the World's most powerful naval fleet. Exiting the EU will enable the UK to exist happily as a trading nation. The EU is an ever more tightly controlled club of former colonial overlords marinating in their own ideals (and huge debts) whilst others just get on with business. I honestly believe the only future for the UK is to break free and trade - we used to be bloody good at it when we weren't subjugating folks. The EU will rapidly disappear up its own arse.

  9. Teiwaz Silver badge

    Perhaps offer to provide IT services?

    we could do destructive things in cyberspace because we have great capabilities

    Having seen and experienced many UK gov IT projects, I feel I can safely agree with 'destructive things in cyberspace' - whether or not that is a 'great capability' or not I don't know.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: Perhaps offer to provide IT services?

      Send Crapita to Russia! Double win! Perhaps they're Russian agents already?

      Or is that a crime against humanity?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Perhaps offer to provide IT services?

        Send Crapita to Russia! Double win! Perhaps they're Russian agents already?

        Nice idea. When they go, can they take that nice Jeremy Corbyn and his Bolshevik sympathising mates?

        1. Teiwaz Silver badge

          Re: Perhaps offer to provide IT services?

          Nice idea. When they go, can they take that nice Jeremy Corbyn and his Bolshevik sympathising mates?

          What makes you think they'd fit in there any better?

          It's not as if Russia has been a 'socialist paradise'* since ummmm........

          * Just because a country calls itself socialist or even a democracy, doesn't mean it is, Kind of like corporate visions, job titles and election promises they are there to pull the wool over your eyes.

  10. Aodhhan

    Nothing new here, move on.

    You can be from England, Russia, China, USA, Zaire, etc. One thing all have in common is a hate for traitors. You think England hasn't knocked off a few traitors in other countries?

    Publicly England will beat its chest, threaten some sanction, expel diplomats etc.

    Behind the scenes they'll move on as if they expected it.

    Do you really think it's good for England to go to war over a turn-coat Russian? Wake up.

    Do you think Russia will go to war over the suspicious death of Ed Snowden? Hardly think so.

    They'd beat their chest, rattle saber, wag a finger, etc.

    Realistically they'd probably wonder what took so long.

    1. Daggerchild Silver badge

      Re: Nothing new here, move on.

      I don't think we think the way you think we think ...

      Traitors are simply defective. Literally. And they're always more useful alive. If you want to send a message, well, learn to write?

      If you have to kill someone to win an argument, you're basically declaring to the world that you're an idiot.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Nothing new here, move on.

        "If you have to kill someone to win an argument, you're basically declaring to the world that you're an idiot".

        If you win an argument - to your satisfaction - and are then killed by your "defeated" opponent, you are an idiot.

        1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
          Paris Hilton

          Re: Nothing new here, move on.

          Can someone point me to the information where the current situation has resulted in someone actually being 'bumped off'. I thought they were supposed to be recovering?

          1. Killing Time

            Re: Nothing new here, move on.

            Skripal and his daughter remain in a critical condition, where is their recovery reported? Surely you understand this is a continuation of a program that started (maybe) with Litvinenko? There's a casualty if you are looking for a corpse,

            1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

              Re: Nothing new here, move on.

              No, wasn't looking for a corpse, just pointing out that people are talking about murder in the current context as if they were already dead.

              Still, when did objective observations ever get in the way of a good scare story?

              1. Killing Time

                Re: Nothing new here, move on.

                OK, in the interest of objective observation, who is reporting that Skripal and his daughter are recovering? You did say that is what you thought, how did you reach that conclusion if you are looking for objectivity?

                1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

                  Re: Nothing new here, move on.

                  With regards to the recovering thing, I must have heard someone talking about the police officer and thought they were referring to Skripal. It does seem like he is still in a critical condition in the ICU.

                  My bad. Although I didn't state it as fact at least.

              2. Daggerchild Silver badge

                Re: Nothing new here, move on.

                "No, wasn't looking for a corpse"

                Well, looks like you got one anyway: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/mar/13/russian-exile-nikolai-glushkov-found-dead-at-his-london-home

                "just pointing out that people are talking about murder in the current context as if they were already dead."

                If you want you can call it 'attempted murder' instead. Does it affect anything?

                "Still, when did objective observations ever get in the way of a good scare story?"

                So, your argument literally is that using wartime nerve agents on civilians in public *cannot* be objectively viewed as scary *unless* the victims die. Stuck on life support doesn't count.

                1. Killing Time

                  Re: Nothing new here, move on.

                  In fairness, correction is posted. Far more constructive in debate than a downvote and disappearing......

                  1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

                    Re: Nothing new here, move on.

                    @Daggerchild..you seem to have discovered a number of words in my post that were written in invisible ink.

                    My comment about the 'scare story' relates to the theatre around the event, not the event itself.

                    My objection to talking as if the chap and his daughter were already dead was because, I feel, it is in rather poor taste.

                    The next time you feel like making up some stuff to attribute to me, perhaps you might want to enquire what I meant rather than blindy assuming you know everything there is to know about my thought processes and intentions.

                    @ Killing Time...I appreciate the reasoned response. In this day and age it's quite scarce. El Reg commentards often seem like the last stand, although I have noticed a distinct change in the wind pattern on here of late.

                    1. Daggerchild Silver badge

                      Re: Nothing new here, move on.

                      Acknowledged. Apologies. Classification as putinbot was in error due to both context ambiguities.

                      It is not possible for me to converse in any reasonable timeframe. Sorry, I find myself unable to explain why. I have been trying all evening.

                      Theatre is the only card in the deck. It was played before. It will be played again. There is no other option. The alternative is the appearance of acceptance/submission. The audience is not logical. The truth does not matter.

                      Re commentards. Reality is a vote now. Self-referential realities travel in packs for safety. I envy your lack of exposure to the reality disputers. Hate is stronger than despair. Survival. The children watch and learn.

                      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
                        Thumb Up

                        Re: Nothing new here, move on.

                        Acknowledged. Apologies. Classification as putinbot was in error due to both context ambiguities.

                        No problem. I think we are all good now.

                    2. Mark 65

                      Re: Nothing new here, move on.

                      My objection to talking as if the chap and his daughter were already dead was because, I feel, it is in rather poor taste.

                      To be fair, from what I have read online about the affects of nerve agents (even when treated) the results are not good. Given the amount of time they were exposed before receiving treatment they are likely to be utterly fucked if they survive if they're not already clinically dead.

                  2. Daggerchild Silver badge
                    Unhappy

                    Re: Nothing new here, move on.

                    "In fairness, correction is posted. Far more constructive in debate..."

                    When I hit reply, it wasn't there yet :-(

    2. Killing Time

      Re: Nothing new here, move on.

      Perhaps this attitude is what separates us. You appear to use the term 'hate' as a justification for the actions and further justify them by claiming we all 'knock off' traitors so what is the issue.

      Maybe I missed some news but please tell me which other sub group of a particular nationality has been 'knocked off' so publicly, brutally and with such disregard for the general public of another country?

      Please don't trot out the vacuous excuses about military actions in other countries where there are ongoing conflicts, the situations really are different. If you attempt to draw parallels I believe there really is no reasoning with you.

      I truly object to the attitude of 'suck it up and get on with it'.

      No, believe me, that ain't gonna happen.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just shoot every known member of the Sluzhba Vneshney Razvedk operating in the UK, and send them back in black bin liners. Increase surveillance on every low-level embassy worker. Otherwise we're just playing rabbit games.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      We already kick out known intelligence agents. At least the ones who are here illegally. Unless it's deemed worth watching what they get up to.

      As for the legal ones, they work in the embassy. Again there's a trade-off. You can kick them out, but then the opposition will shuffle the deck and you'll not know who the new spies are. And it'll cost lots of overtime in surveillance trying to find out. So it's a hassle. Though if you chuck them all out at once, it's bound to throw a spanner in the intelligence works.

      On the other hand, we have spies in our Moscow embassy. So now the Russians will kick them out, and we'll have to do lots of catching up.

      As for sending diplomats home in body bags, no. That's a very bad idea.

  12. Ken 16 Silver badge
    Trollface

    Block them from post-Brexit trade deals

    and send Liam Fox over regularly to remind them what they're missing out on

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    [Putin's] way of wrapping himself in a nationalist flag," "We shouldn't play to that narrative

    well, we just did (but I approve all the same, and I don't give a flying monkey (...) that thee Russiand don't care.

    Now, about this Russian money... it's an entirely different matter. If we say: we'll go after you hard NOW, the message really is: it's been GREAT business boys. Not exactly a reassuring message, is it? Not that anyone's naive enough to expect UK government's been really cracking down on all this money flowing in and through the UK :/

  14. x 7

    Clever

    Nice piece of misdirection........

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Clever

      A real motivations becomes clear...

      On Wednesday, Labor MP Chris Leslie addressed May on the issue of reforming the UN Security Council in order to limit Russia’s rights within the body during a parliament session.

      Leslie argued that Russia was “increasingly looking like a rogue state,” adding that “we must now begin to talk about reform” of the UNSC. “Russia can’t be allowed to simply sit pretty, thumbing its nose to the rest of the world community and feeling that it’s immune from the rule of law internationally,” Leslie said.

      May responded by saying that Leslie was not the only one to stress the need for changes within the UNSC, promising that “this is something that we will look at.”

      “We do talk to the United Nations about the reform of the UN in a whole variety of ways. Of course, any decision – the Catch 22 if you like – is that any decision that might be taken in the Security Council to reform it, of course, could be subject to a veto by Russia, who are sitting there,” the prime minister said.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Clever

        There's been talk of reforming the UN Security Council since at least the 50s. It's never got anywhere, and probably never will. Given 5 members have vetoes, there's always bound to be one of them that won't like any proposed changes.

  15. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    False flag?

    We were unconcerned about killing a few thousand innocents in Iraq, or poisoning various foreign countries with depleted uranium, so why get our knickers in a twist over one not-so-innocent man and two unfortunate "collateral damages"?

    I am pretty sceptical about the whole thing. Firstly, why would Russia all of a sudden take an interest in a has-been spy? Secondly, why would they use an expensive nerve gas to kill him when a knife or bullet would have been cheaper, easier and not give away that it was carried out by a state actor?

    Russia is not the only country with nerve agents (we have plenty in the UK), so it is ridiculous to say that it must have come from Russia. I'm pretty sure that the recipe for the toxin in question will by now be fairly widely known, and could be made in any reasonably equipped laboratory.

    It's a pretty common tactic for a small guy to kick a big guy in the backside, and then point to another big guy as being the culprit. Once the two big guys are fighting, it leaves the way clear for the small guy to do what he likes without interference.

    1. John H Woods Silver badge

      Re: False flag?

      There is a perfectly plausible reason for the MO... It is a signature that is simultaneously definitive and deniable

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: False flag?

      Cynic_999,

      We don't have plenty of nerve agents in the UK. The UK gave up its chemical weapons program in the 1950s. Admittedly they're still finding old WW1 mustard gas shells kicking around, but they're far more dangerous to us than any foreigners. Plus we're still destroying stuff from Saddam's chemical stockpiles, and I believe other country's too.

      Russia don't either, supposedly. They gave theirs up in the mid 90s.

      As for your argument about why use this rather than a bullet. Who knows? Why poison someone with Polonium? That was a lot easier to trace back to Moscow, since the idiots who used it kept opening the damned flask, and contaminated their hotel rooms, their seats on the plane back to Moscow, their children, themselves, the diners at several restaurants and bars and God knows who else.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: False flag?

        >Why poison someone with Polonium?

        Because they will not survive it, there is no antidote.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: False flag?

        What is very confusing is when people who have no background at all in NBCD make statements about the difficulty about manufacturing things.

        The classic example from the past couple of years is the commentary around Sarin and how it is indicative of government involvement. This is the same thing that was used in the Tokyo subway attack in 1995. So unless the Australian government* wants to come forward and take responsibility we have to admit that this stuff can be manufactured by those who have sufficient motivation. Perhaps the same is true for this agent, I have no idea.

        Also, was it brought into England, or manufactured somewhere in the UK? Again, no idea.

        * Aum Shinrinko - the Japanese group that used Sarin in the attack - originally manufactured Sarin on a station in Western Australia.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: False flag?

          They didn't kill many people with it though. Making chemical weapons is easy. Doing it without killing yourself isn't all that much harder. Weaponising them successfully is much, much more difficult. Iraq never got their sarin working properly. Most of what they used in the war with Iran was plain mustard gas.

          What made the 2013 Syrian attack so obviously the governments' fault wasn't the sarin. It was the 1000-odd identically manufactured artillery shells with proximity fuses designed to disperse the agent evenly over a large area at the right concentration to be lethal. And the ability to deliver all those shells relatively accurately in a few minutes.

          That was the tech the Iraqis never fully mastered. I believe the UN reports from the 90s also said that their chemical purity was pants - which meant their sarin stocks had short use by dates.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: False flag?

            Again, someone with no background in NBCD pontificating as though he were a world expert on the matter.

            1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

              Re: False flag?

              I claim no expertise. Just a bit of reading on the subject. What do you say I've got wrong?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: False flag?

      @Cynic_999 Stop asking questions!! Just follow the script - you are opening the door to doubt.

    4. Pier Reviewer

      Re: False flag?

      No - dick swinging. Putin feels the need to look like the big macho man prior to the elections. “Look at me, strong man, leader, rawr! Russia act with impunity against traitors. UK weak” etc.

      Not entirely sure why to be honest - there’s little chance of a loss in the elections. It’s most likely about trying to put other potential defectors off by setting an example.

      The U.K. isn’t about to go to war because a Russian traitor got killed on its soil. It’s a pretty safe move from Putin’s standpoint.

      The only country making a concerted effort to weaken Russia is the USA. Fracking (to cause oil and gas prices to bottom out) and the ongoing arms race will likely see a repeat of the last Cold War. Money wins. Every time. The US is happy for Russia to develop super duper weapons tech because development is expensive. They’ll run out of cash again.

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: False flag? The West loses the Plot and Goes Full Retard

        Money wins. Every time. The US is happy for Russia to develop super duper weapons tech because development is expensive. They’ll run out of cash again. .... Pier Reviewer

        Howdy, Pier Reviewer,

        You may like to consider that Russia has already DEVELOPED and DEPLOYED super duper expensive weapons tech which will have American run out of cash .... although as a Premium Sub-Prime Bankrupt Nation ..... and here is their current rising debt burden which is being added to exponentially with their present deficit spendings ...US National Debt ... is that already a moot point to realise.

        Bankrupt and acting as if nothing is in decline and everything is in their command and control is hubris squared and a catastrophic delusional condition/crazy mental condition which will not end well for the patient.

        And what does all of that tell you about UKGBNI support for Uncle Sam's profligate ways/Insane Memes?

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: False flag?

      There is a very good reason for Putin to make an example out of a former agent, especially one living in a powerful western country. To show the dangers of providing information to western intelligence agencies and reduce the risk or rate of it happening. Over the last two years, I'd be appalled if the intelligence agencies of my country (and every other western country) hadn't been spending a lot of effort (and money) recruiting agents in Russia due to their very clear attempts to damage the fabric of our countries (at surprisingly low cost) and in mine they've found a few particularly soft spots (USA). In the last few months there have probably have been many such overtures and they may even have caught one or two attempts, and figured they needed to send a strong message along the lines of "even if a foreign government promises to protect you in their arms, it wouldn't amount to anything and we'll get you and your family".

      The problem with Russia is we are complicit in what its become, and its becoming increasingly difficult to unwind without severe repercussions and retaliation from the insiders who benefit from the current situation. Realistically, we're not going to remove Putin from power, he runs Russia and will for as long as he lives. We have to deal with that. But the Russian people are to some extent aware of the fact that we gave them Putin. I don't mean consciously, I mean, we made it particularly hard on Russia after communism, like it was necessary to punish them for "having been communist", or "let em starve til they ask us to save them in exchange for their nukes". Anyone in Russia old enough remembers how we turned our backs on them in 98. Just think if we'd treated them like a potential ally that needed help, the world stage would be very different and some of our biggest problems would be so much more tractable. The upshot of all that means we will never win their hearts and minds because they won't trust us again, so we have very little "people power" leverage over Putin.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We should scare the s**t out of their Black Sea fleet.....

    ...with our spiffy four billion pound aircraft carrier. That will show them!

    Err, cough, sorry....forgot there were no aircraft......

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: We should scare the s**t out of their Black Sea fleet.....

      The aircraft carriers would be VERY unsafe as Russia has strong standoff capabilities in any case.

      Getting a few Kalibr missiles into a carrier ain't sounding too nice.

      Note the demonstrations Russia has made of the above during the "Planet Hoth" expedition in Syria.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: We should scare the s**t out of their Black Sea fleet.....

        If a British aircraft carrier were sent to the Black Sea, it would survive on Russian sufferance from the moment it passed Sicily.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: We should scare the s**t out of their Black Sea fleet.....

      How will we get through the Bosphorus? Not much draft there.

  17. reprobate

    No proof it was Putin in the first place ...

    have a look at:

    http://www.eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=86798

    The nasties were from the Soviet era, made in Uzbeckistan, and unguarded for a few years before the Yanks were invitied in to help look after them. It could have been any one of all manner of criminals who dunnit.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: No proof it was Putin in the first place ...

      I wonder if this stuff even exists.

      Remember "Red Mercury" from way back when.

      1. Drewc (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

        Re: Re: No proof it was Putin in the first place ...

        Top trolling there.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Mien Fuher, I can walk!

    It would be more useful if the UK didn't cooperate in the US neocons plot to start the next World War with the Russian Federation. Who was it that once said that the best way to distract from problems at home was to start a small war abroad.

    1. Daggerchild Silver badge

      Re: Mien Fuher, I can walk!

      Erm. Putin must have a lot of problems at home then, unless you really wish to gloss over his active portfolio..

      I'm kinda impressed that anyone thinks either of the present US or UK administrations could plot their way out of a wet paper bag, tho.

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: Mien Fuher, I can walk! @Daggerchild

        I'm kinda impressed that anyone thinks either of the present US or UK administrations could plot their way out of a wet paper bag, tho. ..... Daggerchild

        The question just has to be asked, Daggerchild ...... Impressed or depressed and distressed? The sentence above tends to imply the latter but it is always better to remove any ambiguity so as not to provide succour to the proven disenabled.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just get them to use Windows 10 and wait for the next mega update.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Brexit

    Mrs May is following in the steps of her great hero(ine) Mr(s) Thatcher. Mags was in a tight spot politically, when the Argies took the Malvinas. In true style she threw everything at this political opportunity and went to war, and became popular after that, only be ousted by the most bland, grey man a few years after.

    Now Theresa has screwed up Brexit, for which she secretly blames Russia, and is now trying to do the same thing when this opportunity that has come up.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Brexit

      Bolocks!

      One, it's the Falkland Islands. As named by the people who bloody live there.

      Two, Thatcher's popularity was on the upswing due to the economy starting to come good. Helped by the unpopularity of Labour. Who knows what would have happened?

      Three, what were either of them supposed to do? Not react? Neither chose the timing. They just played the hand they were dealt. Any PM who doesn't react forcefully to this situation, after the Litvinenko murder, is unfit for office.

    2. Daggerchild Silver badge

      Re: Brexit

      You randomly declare war on someone else when you want to instil single-minded patriotism. However single-minded patriotism *caused* Brexit. Only an idiot fights a housefire with a housefire.

      May was already drowning. This diplomatic explosion makes everything even worse. Which, I suspect, may have been the point: Overload. Fry the circuits. A weakened mother births a weakened child.

      Murderous wolves are already snatching prey, and we haven't even finished sawing through the branch we're on yet. There will be a bloodbath when this 'coloniser' hits the ground, disorientated, and separated from the pack.

      "Malvinas" huh? So, I guess you're already after at least one of our islands :)

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Brexit

        Daggerchild,

        What a load of old tosh. This diplomatic "explosion" is minor. It's a story that will be gone in a week or two. Just like the Litvinenko case. It'll rumble on in the diplomatic background for at least the next ten years - but it says nothing new. Putin has been murdering the odd enemy, at home or abroad, every year or so. Just to keep his eye in. He'll keep doing it.

        I don't really understand why. He's got what he wants, power in Russia and to look scary. And a nice managegable conflict with the nasty old West. But the more he does this sort of thing, the harder he makes it for those in the West who'd like a quiet life and to ignore his provocations. This has been called a divide and conquer strategy, but I don't believe it's strategic at all. I think Putin is much more a tactical man - and doesn't do strategic thinking quite so well. The more he pokes the West, the more he unites thinking that he's dangerous and needs to be opposed. And the less likely people are to consult with Russia and make it feel all warm and snuggly and great power-y.

        Look at Trump. He supposedly wanted to ease relations with Russia during his election. But he's been totally unable to, because even appearing to be close to Russia is now so politically toxic. Admittedly I guess that's also because he's got the attention span of a gnat.

        Notice Russia haven't really got allies. There's no political pull.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Brexit

        That the UK was in the process of selling to Argentina when they stupidly invaded. Had they waited, they would have been in permanent possession of the islands, and the kelpers would be somebody else’s problem.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just part of Maybot philosophy

    Guilty unless proven innocent. Especially if they don't like you.

    Even if they do eventually identify it wasn't Putin, or Russia, or the daughter, do you think they'll apologise? Or make it public?

    What the Maybot really hates is the embarrassment that someone could firstly successfully murder military personnel in the heart of a UK Army town and secondly that they could successfully smuggle a nerve agent past border control.

    1. Daggerchild Silver badge

      Re: Just part of Maybot philosophy

      If a professional government assassin entered a country with a small vial and *failed* to poison a civilian in public, *that* would have been embarrassing.

      In this country, murder is seen as a fault in the murderer. Not sure why it's seen differently at your end.

  22. Claptrap314 Silver badge

    Learn to speak the language

    Putin has been offing 1-2 expats a year for how long? There is only one way to get him to stop. I'll let a retired James Bond explain: "You wanna know how to get Putin? They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue."

    At the very least, you have to figure out what he cares about--and hurt that. If not him, then the people that will take care of him for you. Throwing out diplomats is a farce. Economic sanctions are a farce. (Check NK, Iran, Syria...) Cyberwar actually plays to his strength, because our economies are far more dependent. Direct military action is out.

    "You said you wanted to get Putin. Do you really wanna get him? You see what I'm saying is, what are you prepared to do?"

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The UK now has the Donald on it's side.

    What could possibly go wrong? (Does WW3 count as "going wrong"?!?)

    Is that the same Donald they've been calling an idiot for the last 2 years?

    Perhaps the Maybot idiot has promised him a red carpet state visit in return, now she's united the country. LOL.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who has the most to gain?

    Think about it, Russia has royally pissed off the septics and even more their zionist friends by helping Syria, pipelines they can't build and oil fields they can't steal. Both of those countries have bio and chemical weapons, the yanks are years behind schedule in destroying theirs, Israel won't ratify so their activities and stocks remain hidden.

    So now Russia is the 'new' pariah, everyone's against them guilty or not, so who benefits the most?

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