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Re: Former Russian Spy Poisoned in UK

PostPosted: April 11th, 2018, 8:18 am
by jocular
Not killing the victims does not lead me to believe that the Russian secret services could not be involved. A long painful death seems like it could be a to- be- wished- for outcome on their part.

Even for them to survive with permanent damage would suit a particular mindset's disposition.

A long slow vengeance can be the preferred aim and it is also more likely to strike a note of fear in the "far abroad" (eg London)

Of course "spy versus spy" is never likely to be crystal clear and we may have to rely on judgements based on probabilities and mediated by interested parties.

First things first,the democracies have to learn to protect their democratic process from outside or inside interference or there will be nothing worth defending.

Re: Former Russian Spy Poisoned in UK

PostPosted: April 11th, 2018, 8:48 am
by toucana
Novichok (Russian: Новичо́к, "newcomer") isn't the name of a single chemical. It was a codename applied by Russian scientists to a large family of similar agents that were developed and studied at secret Russian chemical warfare facilities as part of a program called 'Foliant' in the 1980s.

According to a variety of reports, some hundreds of different compounds were evaluated, and around five of the most promising variants were eventually selected for further development and weaponisation. In 2016 these five particular agents were recreated by Iranian scientists who passed on the mass spectral data signatures which were added to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Central Analytical Database. ... ?tzcheck=1

This represents the first detailed account of the Novichok agents available in open scientific literature.

These are 'boutique' or designer chemical weapons that can be tweaked and customised to a wide variety of toxicities, and supplied in a number of different delivery formats. From the information made available by UK police, it would seem that the agent used to poison the Skripals was probably a powder applied to the handle on their front door.

Once could speculate that whoever planned the attack may have deliberately used a denatured dose of weakened toxicity to try and reduce the risk of collateral casualties. Or the exposure may not have been as extreme as intended. No one really knows. The point is that it is meaningless to say that "there is no antidote to Novichok". In the first place it isn't one single chemical, and in the second, there are other anecdotal accounts of Russian researchers who *did* survive accidental exposures to these agents in their own laboratories, although they were left profoundly ill for some months.

The Novichok agents belong to a larger family of organophosphate poisons that were first developed during research into agricultural pesticides. They are acetylcholinesterase inhibitors which work by uncoupling the acetylcholine messenger chemical process in the human nervous system. They kill mainly by paralysing the chest muscles that allow you to breathe. If respiration can be maintained long enough until skilled medical assistance can be rendered and atropine injections given, then it entirely possible that victims may survive, as the Skripals did.

Re: Former Russian Spy Poisoned in UK

PostPosted: April 11th, 2018, 10:42 am
by Event Horizon
The nerve agent used was a member of the Novochok family, let there be no doubt about that. It is what we would class in the military an "area denial" weapon. Ie. if dispersed over an area, it makes that area too toxic to operate in. It will kill, but that depends on the Novochok variant used. To my knowledge Novochok 5 and 7 are the most toxic.
Depending on the dose, which only needs to be tiny, and the Novochok variant used is significant.
That the targets are recovering is no reflection on the nerve agent variant used.
These are hellish difficult chemicals to deploy in a civilian context without mishap, and the agent responsible must have had specialist training to carry it out.
There is just one lab in a closed town in Russia that developed and produced this very serious toxin that I know of.
Ms. Skripal has now been relocated to a secure location. The Skripals are going to have to understand that according to Putin they are defectors at best and double-agents to boot. Putin has vowed to liquidate all such people. They will never be safe if left to live in public, and next time they may not be so fortunate as to survive.

Re: Former Russian Spy Poisoned in UK

PostPosted: April 26th, 2018, 12:17 pm
by Event Horizon
A few developments in the story.

MI5 said it was a 6 man team to effect the actual poisoning.

The Novochok was in liquid form, not powder as I expected.

The sites closed for decontamination were re-opened today.

I've heard nothing about Mr. Skripal, so he's alive. Everyone would know if he died.

I think it influenced Mrs. May in her decision to bomb Syrian chemical related facilities. I've seen satellite images, and although there is damage, it doesn't look as damaged as it should. They did shoot some down, and the Russians have taken a couple back to Moscow virtually intact. Their electronic warfare systems were said to perform quite well. I digress.

The guy that invented Novochok was run over and killed today.

The diplomatic spat seems to have cooled for a while. I expect it to re-ignite at some point, but who knows? I don't think this thing is near being over yet.

Re: Former Russian Spy Poisoned in UK

PostPosted: May 18th, 2018, 6:37 pm
by Event Horizon
Today, Mr. Skripal was discharged from hospital. He will be in recovery for about a year, and how he holds up mentally will be of concern I would have thought. But at least he's on his way, and that is encouraging.