Russia own goal?
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