The new Cold War between Russia and Britain

Abdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi
Abdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi
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The attempted assassination of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in London through the use of the dangerous nerve gas Novichok that was created by Russia during the Cold War constitutes the most recent chapter of the new Cold War. Russian scientist Vil Mirzayanov, who led the team which invented the nerve agent and who currently lives in the United States after seeking asylum there, had strongly expressed remorse over his invention after the incident. The great inventor Alfred Nobel had many patents, the most notable one being the invention of dynamite and other deadly materials. After his brother died, the French press mistakenly printed his obituary calling him a murderer and other cruel names. He read his own obituary and started taking extra care of his reputation, so he decided to establish the Nobel Foundation with his own money to atone for his deadly inventions. The Nobel Awards are considered one of the most prestigious international awards today.

At the age of 90 and without a fortune to pass on like Alfred Nobel, Mirzayanov apologized for inventing the Novichok gas that almost killed Skripal and his daughter in Britain. As stated by the BBC's Arabic website, he apologized by saying: “Neither I nor any of the scientists who worked on producing and experimenting this poison thought it would be used for terrorism. It is a military weapon, a weapon of mass destruction.”

Meanwhile, Iran intentionally and boldly started a Cold War in our region for decades. It has escalated this war since the outbreak of the ominous ‘Arab Spring’. The danger is that by not addressing this Cold War in the region, the problem might create a Cold World War. The Russian assassination attempt of the former Russian spy is a dangerous sign in this regard.

A Western front quickly assembled to support Britain in its firm position against Moscow in light of this case. The front is composed of Britain, the United States, Germany and France. It became clear that Moscow is seriously seeking to initiate a new Cold War. Its alliance with North Korea and Iran, its annexation of Crimea, intervention in Ukraine, establishment of military bases in Syria and its rising use of vetoes in the Security Council are a clear illustration of this Russian desire.

The classic spy wars, carried out by conducting assassinations appear to be reviving. The war using leaked documents, such as WikiLeaks, is part of an old tactic that has been renewed. Electronic piracy and influencing state elections and decisions represent a new approach that has surfaced in the past few years. This is topped by Moscow’s exhibition of new sophisticated weaponry, which confirms its lack of commitment in recent years to international conventions.

Moscow's greatest motivation for reviving the Cold War is its desires, as successor of the Soviet Union, and its eagerness to return as an international player on the Western stage and to establish a new bipolar international order. The vision adopted by the former American administration characterized by withdrawal from the world and isolationism greatly helped Moscow and its allies and paved the way for their success.

The ascendance of the mighty Trump to the presidency in the United States, and his recovery of his country's leading role in the world were supposed to have pushed others to reconsider their calculations. Other future scenarios remain open.

This article is also available in Arabic.


Abdullah bin Bijad al-Otaibi is a Saudi writer and researcher. He is a member of the board of advisors at Al-Mesbar Studies and Research Center. He tweets under @abdullahbjad

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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