Allegations that Russian secret agents blew up an ammunition depot in the Czech Republic several years ago sound more like the plot of a Hollywood spy thriller and may have underlying political motivation, analysts have told RT.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis announced over the weekend that Russian secret services may have been behind a series of explosions at an ammunition depot in the town of Vrbetice in 2014. Czech police placed Russian nationals Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov on a wanted list. These are same men that were charged by British authorities three years ago with poisoning former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury in the UK. Petrov and Boshirov denied being secret agents at the time, and Moscow claims to have had nothing to do with the incident in Salisbury.
Now, Prague has expelled 18 Russian diplomats in relation to the Vrbetice affair. Moscow has responded in kind by ordering 20 Czech diplomats to leave the country.
Speaking to RT, Journalist Luc Rivet dismissed the Czech allegations against the Russians as “completely ludicrous.” The whole story was reminiscent of “James Bond stuff,” worthy of a Hollywood production, he added.
This sounds like demonizing Russia as much as they can – as requested by Biden’s White House, which has expelled 10 Russian diplomats.
US President Joe Biden’s administration last week expelled Russian diplomats and imposed new sanctions on dozens of Russian people and companies, citing alleged interference in the 2020 US presidential election and the hacking of American IT firm SolarWinds. Russia denied the allegations and said it will expel 10 US diplomats from Moscow in retaliation.
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Rivet noted that the row with Prague happened right in the middle of a new wave of Russia-US tensions, as well as renewed tensions between Russia and NATO. “I do not believe in coincidence anymore. This is clearly an orchestrated action by the West. They can’t do much within NATO,” the journalist said, referring to how both Russia and the US-led military alliance traded accusations of military buildup close to Russia’s western borders this month. He also pointed out that the expulsion of Russian diplomats coincided with the EU pressuring Moscow on behalf of jailed Russian anti-corruption campaigner Alexey Navalny.
Mark Almond, who leads the think tank Crisis Research Institute in Oxford (CRIOx), told RT that the main issue is whether the heightened tensions are “a flash-in-the-pan type of crisis, or a deeper symptom of the profound and growing antagonism between Russia and the West.”
“There is danger now that an unintended incident could suddenly spark something much greater,” the researcher said.
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Almond found it “very odd” that the Czech authorities did not immediately identify Petrov and Boshirov back in 2018 when their names first made headlines as part of the Skripal case, and that the new allegations against the men came up only now. This is a sign of “an element of politicization,” he said.
Why wouldn’t this evidence be synchronizable with the British claims [in 2018] and wasn’t brought forward then? There is going to be a sense that there are murky political motives on all sides behind this.”
Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, meanwhile, called the allegations in relation to the Vrbetice explosions “baseless and far-fetched,” arguing that Prague was trying to “appease” the US in its row with Moscow.
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