Rus­sia own goal?

The Scotsman - - Perspective / Letters To The Editor -

Amid all the back­slap­ping and coo­ing about the con­trast be­tween Bri­tain’s ruth­lessly ef­fi­cient se­cu­rity ser­vices and the hap­less am­a­teurism of their Rus­sian coun­ter­parts (“Nerve agent sus­pects claim they vis­ited Sal­is­bury as tourists”, The Scots­man, 13 Septem­ber), isn’t there an im­por­tant sense in which UK spy­catch­ers fluffed their lines?

Given that the two sus­pects were sent on Aeroflot flights di­rectly to and from Lon­don (pre­sum­ably GRU staffers get a dis­count); that both might as well have had signs on their heads say­ing “Rus­sian se­cret ser­vice”, and that they were sloppy enough to leave traces of deadly Novi­chok in their Lon­don ho­tel room (a round of ap­plause to nearby Por­ton Down for solv­ing that part of the mys­tery) – why didn’t the UK gov­ern­ment pro­duce any of this ma­te­rial be­fore now?

Boris John­son has said it rep­re­sents “in­con­tro­vert­ible” ev­i­dence; but in that case, if it had been made pub­lic more promptly surely it might have been pos­si­ble to build in­ter­na­tional sup­port for a boy­cott of the World Cup?

Peo­ple have of­ten spec­u­lated as to how to “hurt” Putin – well, few things could have hurt him more than the ig­nominy of host­ing the first se­ri­ously tar­nished FIFA jam­boree (bear­ing in mind Scot­land’s protest would have had more bite if only it wasn’t some­thing foot­ball fans are so used to).

JAMES BRUCE Church Street, Ber­wick-upon-tweed

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