Europe vs Russia: how is Sergei Skripal’s poisoning being reported?

Europe vs Russia: how is Sergei Skripal’s poisoning being reported?
By Chris HarrisArtem Aslanian
Share this articleComments
Share this articleClose Button

How does media coverage of Sergei Skripal’s poisoning differ between Russia and Europe?

United Kingdom


The right-wing Daily Mail newspaper ran stories criticising Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to condemn the Kremlin over the attack.

The leftist leader, speaking in front of MPs, called the incident an appalling act of violence but refused to pin the blame on Russia without any evidence.

Tabloid newspaper The Sun said Corbyn was Putin’s puppet, while the Daily Telegraph said he was incapable of defending the national interest from an external threat.

The left-wing Guardian, meanwhile, quoted an expert who claimed the nerve agent used in the Salisbury attack was produced at just one site in Russia.

Corbyn defended himself against the criticism on Thursday, but said that the evidence did point at Russia.


The scandal’s diplomatic row doesn’t even make the top stories in Russia and is bumped down by Putin’s visit to Crimea and the funeral of actor Oleg Tabakov.

Vedomosti, the centre-right daily newspaper, carries official Russian reaction to British prime minister Theresa May’s move to expel 23 diplomats from the UK.

It quotes Denis Manturov, Russia’s trade minister, as saying the country’s chemical weapons stock was destroyed last year.

The newspaper also runs comment from Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the foreign affairs committee at Russia’s Federation Council.

Kosachev refers to the UK as “formerly Great Britain” and says it has — unlike Russia — a history of meddling in international affairs.

Rossiyskaya Gazeta, the official broadsheet, quotes Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, who said Britain’s actions were irresponsible and that it had not presented any proof of Russia’s alleged involvement.


“Without assuming May's conclusions, it might be useful to mention some features of the functioning of the current Russian system,” writes Spanish newspaper El Pais.

“On the one hand there is official Russia, which formally acts in accordance with its laws and is organised around the"verticals" of power that converge in the Kremlin.

“On the other hand, there is the Russia of natural and legal persons, who move in an opaque area. They are "warriors, propagandists and contractors" who can carry out missions designed by the Kremlin, but who also exercise their own initiatives.

“These two Russias run in different lanes and the encounters between them are usually discreet and without media attention.

“The evidence, when there is any, is usually casual and within the reach of the sharp eye, such as a photo on social networks or a controversial character caught in the anteroom of a powerful person.

“The relationship between these two Russias, who played different roles in the annexation of the Crimea, the war in eastern Ukraine, and also in Syria, has a golden rule: the state takes credit for its successes and ignores failures.”


“What is the Kremlin’s use [of carrying out] a brutal attack on an enemy agent who has long since been defused, a few days before Putin’s own presidential elections?” asks the Bonn-based newspaper General-Anzeiger.


“Conversely, what would the British have gained from throwing the tense relationship with Russia into an arctic abyss with a fake of this attack, as Russian agitators now claim? Nothing."

The paper concluded a new cruel and cold irrationality is spreading in relations between Russia and the West.


Centrist daily newspaper Le Monde says May’s response to Skripal’s poisoning were modest sanctions that are unlikely to shake Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The right-wing Le Figaro takes the opposite view, claiming British Prime Minister Theresa May has decided to cross swords with Moscow. The newspaper’s London correspondent writes the measures taken are the most important in 30 years.

Share this articleComments

You might also like

OPCW begins Skripal investigation in The Hague

Daughter of poisoned Russian ex-spy 'recovering'

Labour’s Corbyn warns UK government on blaming Russia for spy attack