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Instead, the EU's statement papered over the significant diplomatic gulf about how to actually tackle Russia that has divided Nato members since the invasion of Crimea in 2014. Expelling Russian intelligence agents operating under official cover is a sensible first step but it does not serve to ensure unity on further sanctions or other coordinated responses.

Mustering the support for this seemingly self-evident statement had initially proved challenging, following initial reluctance by the US and France to publicly blame Russia. It was an inadequate response to a week that raised extraordinary questions about foreign policy on both sides of the Atlantic. In the US, an expression of solidarity that highlighted the silence of his President, cost Rex Tillerson his job as Secretary of State.

Revealing the depth of disunity between, and indeed within Nato members, however momentarily, is exactly the effect Putin hoped for. It totally negates the purpose of the joint statement and was apparent to even the most useful of idiots, Jeremy Corbyn, whilst he grasped for any explanation of events that didn't directly implicate Russia.

As Putin celebrates his recent re-election he can be confident that Nato has failed to adequately respond to his challenge to the integrity of a member state, a blow to the collective security of all. This portends future obstacles to credible collective action, a signal that only likely to embolden Moscow further.

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Lawrence James
April 22nd, 2018
9:04 AM
This is thinly disguised Russophobia of Crimean war vintage; one looked in vain for some mention of the 'Russian bear'. Why should NATO concern itself with Russian policy towards the Ukraine, which is not a member ? Or why should it forbid Russia from asserting its control over the Crimea which has long been part of the Russian polity ? Like every power Russia has spheres of influence: The US would be affronted by Russian interference in the Caribbean, or by the defection of Puerto Rico. NATO should accept the status quo in areas where, historically, Russian claims vital interests. On one level meddling is dangerous and, on another, it looks like NATO justifying its existence. As for the attempted assassination in Salisbury, many details remain unclear.The city should not become the Sarajevo of the 21st century.

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