Russia’s Pravda: ‘We Are in a State of Real and Full-Scale Cold War’ over Salisbury Poisoning

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Russia’s Pravda news portal, the online descendant of the infamous Soviet-era Communist propaganda sheet, responded to the expulsion of Russian diplomats from several Western nations on Monday by invoking the Cold War, referencing the remarks of the Russian ambassador to the U.S. calling the move a “tantrum”.

While the English Pravda edition on Monday limited its content to listing the nations which had so far expelled Russian diplomats and embedding a YouTube video warning “Russia and UK on verge of war because of Theresa May’s circus show”, the Russian language version of the same article edition was more explicit.

Published within 15 minutes of the English edition, Pravda’s Russian headline stated the expulsions were seen as a prelude to all-out war, and quoted at length the editor of Russian current affairs journal Russia in Global Politics Fedor Lukyanov.

His claim that “a multilateral diplomatic war has begun between Russia and the West”, that the states involved are now in a real state of Cold War comes as a serious escalation in rhetoric from a news organisation traditionally thought of as a Kremlin mouthpiece.

In the journal editorial quoted by Pravda, Lukyanow wrote of the fact that the United States expelled significantly more embassy staff than the United Kingdom, the nation that played host to the attempted murder of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal: “It turns out that Washington is the flagship of the new Cold War.

“In the foreseeable future, there is no hope for improving relations or progress in any areas, we are in a state of real and full-scale Cold War with all the ensuing consequences. The main and only task is to minimize risks, prevent the conflict from turning into an even more militarised phase.”

Repeating his claim and asserting that it was no exaggeration that the West and the Federation had entered a new Cold War, Lukyanow stated the situation was “in reality much worse” than 40 years ago, as in the present state of “[utterly complete] mutual alienation” there were no “clearly defined rules of conduct — formal and informal” as there had been between 1945 and 1989.

Western nations including the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Canada, and 14 European Union member states have expelled Russian diplomats — with around 100 staff having been sent home so far.

The expulsions have come in the aftermath of the poisoning and attempted murder of Sergei and Julia Skripal with a chemical nerve agent in Salisbury, England, in March. The British government and her allies have blamed the Russian government for the attack — a charge with Russia denies.

The Russian government itself has vowed to respond to the expulsions, with the BBC reporting the remarks of Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov who took aim at the United States, stating: “Certainly, we will not tolerate such impudence… When one or two diplomats are being expelled from this or that country, all the while whispering apologies in our ear, we know for sure that this is a result of colossal pressure, colossal blackmail, which unfortunately is Washington’s main tool now on the international area.”

Lavrov’s foreign ministry is now considering potential retaliation measures.

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