Calling Out Russia

September brings with it the last of the summer fetes.  Southwater Church’s fete was up on numbers this year and there was also a very relaxed atmosphere for Crawley Down’s “Superheroes” themed fayre.  In Horsham, St Mary’s played host to a bell ringing competition.  It was great to see teams competing from across the south – and even better to be able to present the trophy to Sussex!  Bell ringing locally is going through a renaissance and the unique sound of church bells remains an abiding welcome presence.

Last week with a National Security Statement and this week in a debate Parliament is discussing what is euphemistically described as the “Salisbury Incident”.  Salisbury is another southern market town (in their case Cathedral City), with fetes and bellringers.  A City so English is still acts as custodian for a copy of Magna Carta.

We now know for certain that residents of Salisbury have been subjected to a nerve agent attack by officers from Russian military intelligence service (the GRU). This was not the action of rogue agents, the GRU is closely overseen by the Kremlin and the sophisticated attack in Salisbury could not have been conducted without the approval of senior members of the Russian Administration. 

Russia has released multiple stories purporting to explain what happened to the Skripals and the others affected, one fatally, by the nerve agent deployed with such reckless contempt.  This deluge of disinformation, to my mind, simply reinforces their culpability and convinces no one. 

Our security services and police have acted with dedicated professionalism.  Two men have been identified and charges laid. Russian has proved before her unwillingness to assist the international community seeking to hold to account those responsible for crimes on foreign soil.  However there is an Interpol warrant for their arrest should they ever step outside of the Russian Federation.

The international community rallied to support the UK when we shared our suspicions.  Those suspicions have now been backed up by firm evidence.  No one should be in any doubt as to the seriousness of the attack – or the seriousness of our Government and allies to hold to account those responsible. 

Photo caption: Crawley Down WI joined in the “Superheroes” theme of the village fayre with their own tribute to the Suffragettes, 100 years on from women first winning the vote.