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Sergei Skripal was undoubtedly a traitor to his country. Russian court documents suggest he gave British Intelligence the names of more than 300 Russian agents. In return, Sergei Skripal received at least £100,000 and access to a holiday home in Malaga, where he could meet his handler, or make dead drops of his stolen information. His MI6 contact was a man named Pablo Miller, who went by the name Antonio Alvarez de Hidalgo during this time whilst working for British intelligence via MI6. Miller apparently recruited Skripal in around 1994 whilst Skripal was working in the position at the Russian military attaché′s office in Madrid, Spain.
Russia in the mid 1990s was a poor and directionless state. There was a fire sale of military equipment via officially linked black marketeers and everybody seemed to have their price. British and American intelligence agencies were able to develop links with high level Russian officials during these turbulent years, but the political climate was about to change.
The millennium was approaching and Putin would unite the most powerful Russian factions behind him. By this time, Sergei Skripal had already betrayed his country. But even with Putin rising as the strong man of the Russian Federation, Skripal was still passing intelligence onto MI6.
Pablo Miller, who was stationed in the British Embassy in Tallinn, Estonia. Miller would fly out to the Malaga property and return his information to his senior. Miller’s officer at the time is well known to us now. Christopher Steele, the author of the controversial “Trump/Russia Dossier,” was Pablo Miller’s boss at MI6.
Putin has always been open about the fate of Russian traitors. They will “kick the bucket” says the President of the Russian Federation openly on television. But, while placing any other conspiracy theories firmly to one side, why would Russia kill a small time spy so openly and obviously? The recent chemical weapon attack on the streets of the United Kingdom could simply be just a brutal and brazen message to other traitors of the Russian state. But why select Sergei Skripal to be the example?
Post Litvinenko, why did the British authorities think that it was safe for Sergei Skripal to live under his real identity? The risk to the citizens of the United Kingdom was obvious. Though, however idiotic the decision was in hindsight, maybe the British authorities really believed that there was no significant risk to Sergei Skripal. They wouldn’t have expected his attempted assassination to have been with the use of a nerve agent like Novochick. It seems that the British secret services had become complacent, or negligent.
Was the attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal actually a strategic overkill to send a message to one man? Christopher Steele.
Mr Steele would have been aware of the dangers attached to his public intervention in American politics. It was a blatant attempt to scupper any warming of relations between the US Trump administration and Putin’s Russia. Vladimir Putin had seemed optimistic about Russia’s future relationship with the United States during the most recent US elections. However the sexy and salacious Trump/Russia dossier has continued to have reverberations in the American mainstream media. It has seemingly forced President Donald J. Trump to be a little bit tougher on Putin than was expected. The dossier has forced a public wedge between the US and Russian administrations.
Christopher Steele went into hiding as soon as his dossier hit the press. He returned to work at his private intelligence agency, which is named Orbis Business Intelligence Ltd, on the 7th of March, only three days after the public attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.
Orbis Business Intelligence was co-founded by Steele and would employ Skripals handler, Pablo Miller, as soon as he left MI6. This continued connection to Sergei Skripal, combined with release of the Trump/Russia dossier, could have given motivation to Russian secret services to act.
After Skripal’s public poisoning the mainstream media has reported the suspicious deaths of at least two other Russian dissidents in the United Kingdom. But it was less reported that in the 9 months following the last US elections 9 prominent Russians died, some in suspicious circumstances.
Denis Voronenkov, 45, was gunned down outside a Hotel in Kiev, Ukraine. Russia's ambassador to Sudan, Migayas Shirinskiy, died in the Khartoum while swimming in the embassy pool, of a suspected heart attack. Vitaly Churkin, 64, Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, died on 20 February 2017, of an apparent heart attack. Alexander Kadakin, 67, the Russian ambassador to India, died on 26 January after a short illness. Sergei Krivov, 63, died on US election day at the Russian Consulate in New York. Russian consular officials first said Krivov fell from the roof, but they then said he died of a heart attack. The New York City Medical Examiner ruled that Krivov died from bleeding in the chest area, likely due to a tumour.
Russia's ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Karlov, 62, was publicly assassinated in Ankara on 20 December 2016. The same day, Petr Polshikov, 56, a senior Russian diplomat, was shot to death in his Moscow home, according to a local Moscow newspaper Moskovskij Komsomolets.
Oleg Erovinkin, who had close ties to Russian intelligence, was found dead on 26 December 2016 sitting in his car on the streets of Moscow. None of these men lived to the Russian life expectancy of 71-years-old. The Cold War has never looked so savage, and it isn’t over yet.
At this important period in Putin’s reign, he must cement himself as the man who should never be betrayed. Elections in Russia are fixed in Putin’s favour, however, the opposition is growing and not everyone wants to continue living in Vladimir's authoritarian bubble.
One thing is for sure. Christopher Steele should be very careful. He may need to raise his public profile to make him a hard target for the Russian secret services. But this could be part of the plan. The reappearance of Christopher Steele day after the murder of Sergei Skripal could be a little Russian bear baiting. Expect to see much-more of Christopher Steele.