In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines. On tonight's programme Evan Davis asks who is winning the diplomatic war between Britain and Russia.
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Britain versus Russia.
Are we even competing?
What game is Putin playing?
A Russian intelligence
chief has accused
Theresa May of "childlike
naivete and incompetence".
A diplomatic conflict
that is deadly serious, but
with a dash of playground
This Russia watcher thinks Putin
is getting exactly what he wants.
We will ask if he's right.
Also tonight, for years we've
welcomed Russians to London,
including friends of Putin.
What is it that first attracted us
to the oligarch billionaires?
The Romans when British
establishment types can get cosy
with Russian money, and that means
that they could be just 2 degrees of
separation from the master of the
Kremlin himself, Vladimir Putin.
And, if leaders are forged in times
of crisis, how have our leaders
dealt with events this week?
Hello, another Russian,
no friend of Putin, another
It has taken a few
days, but the death
of Nikolae Glushkov,
found on Monday, is now
being investigated as a murder.
Very quickly after
he was found, reports
emerged that he had been strangled
and death by compression to the neck
is what the police themselves
are now saying occurred.
It's just something else
to heat up a row that
has led to a new chill in relations
between East and West.
Now in relation to
the nerve agent used
in Salisbury the British
have today invited
the Organisation for the Prohibition
of Chemical Weapons,
to come to the UK to take a sample
under article eight
of the Chemical Weapons Convention.
The OPCW have expressed
to support the investigation.
I'm with our diplomatic
editor, Mark Urban.
Nikolae Glushkov. We have known for
days that he died.
That is the main
point today I think that police are
saying it is now a murder inquiry.
They said they haven't established
any link with the case of the
Skripals, but people will inevitably
now see this as another potential
killing of an opponent in London.
Let's go back to Salisbury. There is
very little else to say at this
point. Back to Salisbury.
point. Back to Salisbury. What do
you think about how this nerve agent
was him to be their?
creeping forward incrementally. On
Monday I spoke about one of the
Novichok agents, A234 and the
possibility eight had been released
into a car. Today we heard the
Russian ambassador of being quoted
by TASS, saying that this was indeed
the agent ever talking about any
Salisbury context. We also saw today
the car of Mr Skripal being removed
from the tow truck yard where it had
been since it happened and taken
away. It had been in on air pretend
there to try to contain any
contamination. -- and air proof
tent. Police are still saying
officially that they still don't
know it was the car when the poison
was released but there was a
tremendous amount of emphasis on the
car. I don't believe they found
contamination in the home which
would tend to undermine the suitcase
and various other theories.
and various other theories. It has
not been subject to that. And people
are not saying that there is
contamination in the home so that is
why it goes back to one o'clock on
that day when they are believed to
have got in the car. That was the
real period of danger that the
police are looking at.
police are looking at.
And they are
looking to try and get the OPCW
That is the
international watchdog, the UN, the
monitoring and enforcement council.
And a few things have come out. They
have put out a statement saying that
they are looking into these Novichok
agents. So there are confirmation
that they know these things exist
and that they are modelling up on
them but most stocks were declared
to have been destroyed so that has
to be seen in the context of Russia
when OPCW certified that they had
destroyed all of their chemical
weapons and nobody ever said that
they had Novichok and some Russian
officials have said that was not
included in that early 90s chemical
weapons Convention but the OPCW said
that today this is a real chemical
weapons that we consider to be
banned by the terms of this key
Urban, throughout this week Russia
has given the impression of somewhat
enjoying Britain's indignation
as to what has happened.
So what is the game
Russia is playing?
It seems to be more
than just deterring would be
Some would say he is just goading
us, whilst Theresa May
is trying to look not goaded.
So who's winning?
I'm joined by an security
expert and Russia watcher
Edward Lucas, and Kori Schake,
former adviser to the US Pentagon
and National Security Council.
Both are in no doubt
the Russians are
behind the Salisbury attack.
We are talking about what their
objectives would be. You think Putin
is working to some sort of game
plan? What is he trying to achieve?
Why is it that it was at the end of
the election campaign, painting the
outside world out to get Russia, the
West misbehaving. And the idea of
these efficient Russian spy killer
is going round the world bumping
people off. He also likes Britain's
isolation at a time when it has
difficult relations with Europe and
with America and Trump because of
Brexit. But of course what you ought
to be implying as a result of this
is to cut off the City of London,
the property market and financial
system generally to dirty Russian
money and that is something they
don't want to do, because...
political model that Britain is
following, are they enjoying it by
the sound of it?
particularly Boris Johnson as
Foreign Secretary and Gavin
Williamson 's coming out with ease
from a sententious things, of the
worst we can do if we we have had a
chemical weapons attack on our soil
was to push out press releases and
make statements either on our own
with our allies...
with our allies...
This is kind of
about testing in Britain and those
kinds of things.
Absolutely, that is
exactly right. What the Russians are
trying to do is use our western free
societies as a means of undercutting
our societies and they have mostly
Is this to strengthen his
power domestically? To divide and
I think it is both of those
things. It is to distract domestic
Russian attention from the failures
of the Russian economy and the
failures of domestic governance in
Russia and also everywhere that they
can to try and divide Western
allies, to try and undercut the
confidence that we have in our own
governance and systems of
Is Britain and the West
was Mike response, is it almost
plain to the, are replaying fully to
what Putin is designing?
clearly this is kind of a whodunnit,
a Howard Dunnett and a wide on it
and what I begin to do about it? And
I think the government is not really
going to take the sort of steps we
need, and we don't have the lies. If
we weren't really series it would
not just be Britain throwing out 23
Russian intelligence officers. It
would be 30, 40 allies, all of Nato
and the EU collectively throwing out
700 Russian intelligence officers.
That would make an impact, that is
what we ought to be doing.
that free societies are slow to
mobilise and it requires consensus.
I give the British government, I
think it was careful in how it
described what was happening. It
went to allies and institutions in
the international order, it could
not get ahead of itself. It left the
Russians exit ramps if they wanted
it and the fact that they did not
take them, help Stodel.
So what was
the exit ramp that the Russians had,
what was the way out?
First, it was
not described as an armed attack so
it did not trigger Nato's article
five. It gave time for the Russians
to explain themselves. There were
explanation is that the Russians
could have given.
And it left open
the possibility that somehow they
had lost it.
President Trump was
quicker signing responsibility to
the Russians than Prime Minister me
Maybe they are enjoying keeping is
guessing. But I don't think they
thought, let's try and back off. I
think the Russian reaction may come
at an unexpected time and be of an
unexpected nature as well.
were some name-calling. They were
calling Gavin Williamson a vulgar
You are talking to
someone who spoke to the leader of
North Korea as rocket man. So it
could be that standards are falling.
It could be that the Russians are
trying to trivialise this. And that
Western politicians, maybe they need
to understand that Russia as an
adversary because Russia is behaving
like an adverse array.
We will leave
One question that arises out
of Salisbury is whether Britain has
been too willing to offer itself up
as a comfortable home
the very wealthy Russians,
often close to President Putin.
"Don't ask, don't tell" seems
to have been the policy in regard
to the origins of Russian wealth
coming into London.
And there has been a discernible
reluctance to use that wealth
as a diplomatic weapon.
It's not just Russians that we have
been nice to, by the way.
Remember the London School
of Economics had taken money
from Colonel Gaddafi's son, Saif,
and given him a PhD.
If we are a soft touch,
is it because some parts
of our establishment are too easily
the riches of foreigners?
John Sweeney now looks at one
example, the social connections
of Russian aluminium magnate Oleg
And a warning - this report starts
with flashing images.
Every summer, the haves
and the have-yachts converge
for very private holidays.
In 2008, Russian oligarch Oleg
Deripaska sailed to Corfu for one.
Lord Mandelson was there.
So, too, was George Osborne.
It caused a bit of a do.
I didn't break any rules,
but I think I did make a mistake,
and I think in politics it's not
just what you say or what you do,
it's how things look,
and I have to be honest,
this didn't look very good.
There were all guests
of financier Nat Rothschild,
who owns this villa on the island.
What happens in Corfu
stays in Corfu.
That's the deal.
But there was a leak.
A newspaper was tipped off that
Lord Mandelson had, allegedly,
been "dripping pure poison
about Gordon Brown
in Osborne's ear".
Furious at this indiscretion,
Nat Rothschild revealed that Osborne
went aboard Oleg Deripaska's yacht
with the then Tory
fundraiser, Andrew Feldman.
Rothschild said they were soliciting
a donation, something they denied.
Bun fights like those held
at Nat Rothschild's villa
are moments when British
establishment types can get cosy
with Russian money -
and, whether they know it or not,
that means they could be just two
degrees of separation
from the master of the Kremlin
himself, Vladimir Putin.
Putin demands the loyalty
of Russia's billionaires.
There are nearly 100 of them.
Deripaska is near
the top of the list.
He's one of the most
important links between Putin
and the British establishment.
Through George Osborne and Tory
fundraiser Andrew Feldman,
you could say that Putin was just
three degrees of separation
from David Cameron.
I don't think that there is
necessarily espionage and blackmail.
I think the question of what kind
of friends you have is influenced
by what you need to understand
about the political
situation in Russia -
and, if you understand that
oligarchs in Russia today
are not independent people,
and cannot hold onto their wealth
without maintaining good
relationships with Putin,
then that's something that British
politicians need to understand.
In the case of Oleg Deripaska,
the American authorities have been
more wary than the Brits.
The US has denied
Oleg Deripaska a visa.
Mr Deripaska made his
mega-fortune in the 1990s,
after Russia's aluminium wars,
so-called because some
proprietors were literally
killing off competition.
There is no suggestion that
Mr Deripaska was involved
in violence, but surviving in that
environment was tough.
It was very difficult.
But I believe whatever it is.
I can't say that I'm proud,
but I believe in all that
I did the right thing.
Mr Deripaska told the High Court
in London in 2012 that he'd been
forced to pay protection money
to a man with links
to organised crime.
One of Mr Deripaska's new business
associates is former
energy minister Greg -
now Lord - Barker, another
David Cameron chum.
He's the chair of Deripaska's
energy company, En+,
which was recently allowed to list
on the London Stock Exchange.
And this week it was revealed
by the Financial Times that En+
is one of the clients
of Lord Mandelson's strategic advice
consultancy, Global Counsel.
Global Counsel says neither
Lord Mandelson nor Mr Deripaska
are involved in this work.
Deripaska is big news
in Russia at the moment.
Opposition politician Alexei Navalny
recently released this
documentary about him.
It includes footage of Deripaska
on his yacht, entertaining
one of Russia's most
senior government officials.
It was filmed by an escort,
19 years old at the time.
In London, a company run
by the Home Secretary's brother,
Roland Rudd, handled the PR
for the recent stock market
flotation of Deripaska business En+.
I mean, I'm not in the PR business,
but I think that, when one
is the immediate family of someone
in a top leadership position,
one should be careful
about what foreign professionals,
foreign clients one has.
Donald Trump's campaign
manager, Paul Manafort,
has worked for Mr Deripaska,
too, something Mr Deripaska
is not keen to talk
about without an appointment.
Get lost, please.
At Tory fundraiser the Black
and White Ball, the British wives
of oligarchs bid big money
for experiences, like having dinner
with Gavin Williamson,
the Defence Secretary.
It's clear from our research that
several wealthy oligarchs close
to Vladimir Putin have managed
to cultivate members,
whether witting or unwitting,
of the British ruling elite.
Getting involved in the art world,
donating to charity,
sponsoring academic prizes,
buying shares in football clubs,
these are the ways that Putin's
cronies can become friends
of the posh folk of London.
But, if the businesses are legal
and the stock exchange
is happy, should we care?
There is a danger here
in smearing all Russians.
Look, there are lots of very gifted
rebels in London today,
and it would be awful
to have a total attack
on all Russians in London.
It's wonderful that we have this
expatriate Russian community.
But political parties
should be very careful,
and government should be very
careful about who it does business
with and takes money from.
People are saying there's
a problem with Jeremy Corbyn
and Seamus Milne's judgment about
That's the only problem
of Russian influence
in British politics -
true or false?
It's got to be said
that the Conservative Party has been
very rash in who it's taken money
from and who it's done business
with, and of course New Labour,
which is currently on the war path
against Jeremy Corbyn, has all kinds
of questions to answer.
But Russian money has washed around
the corridors of power in London
for perhaps too long.
The question is, will the nerve
agent poisonings in Salisbury change
anything, or will it continue to be
roubles as usual?
John Sweeney. We might pick up one
or two of those themes shortly.
The country hasn't just been talking
about the Russians this week.
We've also been talking
about Jeremy Corbyn.
The conversation has focused inwards
as well as outwards.
In a way, this isn't surprising.
The Salisbury attack has
been another chance,
on top of the ample opportunities
provided by Brexit, to debate
to the rest of the world -
not just to Russia itself,
but to Trump, the US
and other allies -
and the chance to ask how powerful,
how trustworthy and how grown-up
we are in dealing with these things.
It is easy for the right to benefit
at times of external threat.
And the polling backs that
up on this occasion.
If we look at the YouGov polling
on whether Theresa May has responded
well or badly to the poisoning,
most people think she
has handled it well -
two to one in favour,
with quite a few don't knows.
Now, the same question
on Jeremy Corbyn's response -
it's two to one the other way.
39% say he has handled it badly
and 18% say he has done well.
But interestingly, a vast number
of "don't knows" in his case.
Let's see if we can dissect
the politics of the week with a
panel drawn from the brightest and
best of our nation's commentariat -
former editor and Mail On Sunday
commentator Rachel Johnson,
bestselling author and Guardian
columnist Owen Jones,
and the Times's Jenni Russell.
Owen, do you think Jeremy Corbyn has
paid a political price this week for
The media framing has
been a disgrace, including your own
programme. Yesterday, the background
of your programme, you had Jeremy
Corbyn dressed up against the
Kremlin skyline... No, no. Dressed
up as a Soviet leader. You even
Photoshop is that it look more
It was real, him in front
of the Kremlin.
people complained to the BBC about
that, and it isn't your graphics
department responsible, it is
whoever signed it.
It was a real
picture of him.
Who was it, which
party over and over again demanded
an amendment to crackdown? Which
party resisted, the Conservatives.
Which politician kibosh and enquiry,
delayed undermined from a year after
year, against the poisoning of
Litvinenko, and in doing so
potentially embolden those who used
Theresa May. Which party is awash
with Russian links? The
While the polls
2-to-1 in her favour on this and
2-to-1 against him? Has he bungled
it this week? You are saying, look
how good he is on this, and the
country are not buying it.
saying he isn't having a good
hearing, and I'm glad there are so
many people who say they don't know.
What sort of country do we live in
where the media constantly tries to
portray the Leader of the
Opposition, who was the only one who
stood up in solidarity in Parliament
with Russia's democratic opposition,
and being smeared for things? This
is a series point, because it is how
the mediocrity in this country for
the feedback the expulsion of the
diplomats, that's what the Labour
Party did. The argument of the
Labour Party is to go further and
clamp down on Russian money, which
the Conservatives party, which is
bankrolled by Russian oligarchs.
the framing being unfair?
Owen made some very good points
about the injustice of the British
media towards Putin for them I last
night. I didn't watch your programme
last night, but if you take a
photograph taken years ago in a
different context and put it up
there... Images matter. And he's
right that many of the issues that
he raises. It is true that the
Conservative Party have not done the
Magnitsky act. But Corbyn had an
opportunity to say exactly anything
that he pleased when he stood up in
the Commons this week, and he
completely blew it. He made it sound
as though he wasn't primarily
interested in defending the British
people, as if he was more interested
in exploring every possible reason
why somebody else might have been
responsible for this attack. The
point is, if you intend to lead the
country, as Jeremy Corbyn does, your
first duty is to make people feel
that you will defend them against
attack, and although he was
perfectly right to lay out some
questions about what we know, Corbyn
didn't do it the right way. He
should have come out at the
beginning it made it clear that he
would defend Britain and he would
ask other questions later.
ask other questions later.
where are you on these?
both made sensible points, but I
thought that Jeremy Corbyn was right
to point out that we needed some
proof before we risked escalating
what could be a very dangerous
international situation, and I think
a lot of the country really agreed
with him on that. We've had eight
years of the war in Syria, we got
1500 civilian casualties in Yemen,
and then we have the death, probable
assassination by a Russian agency of
one British citizen, a Russian spy
swap, and suddenly the entire
international security establishment
decides it's time to really launched
an international diplomatic
offensive against Putin. I
understand the reasons about the
chemical attack on British soil, but
I think we were right to be
Last word on Corbyn,
because I want to get onto other
What will get the Russian
regime where it hurts? Labour has
accepted that either Russia is
directly responsible or criminally
culpable by allowing its weapons to
pull into the arms of the gangsters
and oligarchs who ravaged Russia
ever since the fall of the Soviet
Union and what will help them? Going
after Russian dirty money, and I'd
ask, which party would you trust, a
party bankrolled by the City of
London, the centre of this
money-laundering, or one which
isn't? The Conservatives are Roche
-- are awash with Russian money but
Theresa May has refused an enquiry
into the Litvinenko poisoning
to move on to Theresa May because a
lot of people have said she has had
a good week, and the polls seem to
that, head of Labour by three points
in one poll today. Is it game
changing? Is this the new strong
Theresa May? That strength in her
position in the and the Labor Day
when the people come and tell her to
go? Best position in the party and
does it do Labor Day.
I thought she
performed OK this week. With God,
thank goodness there is a grown-up
in charge. However, the whole reason
this is so threatening, and probably
the reason this happened is that
Britain is extraordinarily weak. We
are walking away from our allies in
Europe, wilfully alienating them,
and we can't depend on our allies
across the pond, and that is a
situation which Theresa May has made
much worse than it need be, and the
backdrop for all of this is that,
when this episode is over, we should
be dwelling on the fact that very
few countries in the world have
chosen to walk away from their
allies into something is called
unthreatening as this world...
Secondly, when you are saying, as
she done well, the context is that
Theresa May is completely confused
about what she wants about Brexit,
so is her party, we are going
nowhere in the negotiations.
could be testing our isolation.
may remain, but I have to say, I
think it's a joke to say that this
is a distraction from Brexit. The
Russian Embassy said, the Russian
embassy new... They knew everybody
would start talking about our
security position post-Brexit, and
that's why they said a probable
assassination, and MI5 plot to
distract us from Brexit.
ALL TALKING AT ONCE.
The first statement by the quad,
Germany, France, the US and the UK
for decades. There hasn't been any
disintegration of the transatlantic
Again, it's about their
track record. Let's not forget the
Conservatives lobbied to die lewd
sanctions against Russia in the
past, on the basis it would damage
the City, but if you look back to
2003 in Iraq, Libya in 2011,
everybody said, look how strong and
commanded David Cameron and Tony
Blair are, and anybody dissenting
from the government line was
betrayed as traitors, cowards,
stooges of the enemy.
In saying that the media
and the new Labour elite and the
Conservatives did that, especially
with Libya, where only about 40 MPs
voted against. We do have a foreign
policy which is reckless and
endangers the national security of
everybody watching, because of
Theresa May's support for the Saudi
dictatorship or the Turkish regime,
so this idea that, because we are
doing some theatrical standing up in
terms of expelling a few diplomats
instead of taking an Russian dirty
You are making this
argument a lot of -- lot better than
the people running the Labour Party.
The Labour Party is making any
argument like this extremely well,
because Corbyn was writing about 19%
before this. There are many reasons
to be very worried about British
foreign policy and about British
foreign policy in the past. I was
among many people who marched
against the war in Iraq, but Jeremy
Corbyn is now saying he will
reassess the membership of Nato...
That is Corbyn's policy. He might
not ever want to use a nuclear
deterrent. You can't have somebody
coming in to say per minute recess,
I may not want to use the ultimate
I want to give Rachel the
last word. When you look at moments
like this, do you think they show
our country at its best or do they
show it at its worst?
performed well and Prime Minister
really, and I thought she struck the
right note, and I think that,
unlike, there has been terrible
banter from the Defence Secretary.
And the Foreign Secretary!
Russian embassy's command of the
English language is superior to that
of our Defence Secretary, and in
that sense we are on the back foot.
Thank you, all.
The cable car across the Thames,
which opened in 2012, is facing
an uncertain future tonight.
It could be sold off
or scrapped completely,
according to the Evening Standard.
The Emirates Air Line,
the project of former
mayor Boris Johnson,
was the UK's first urban cable car.
It was meant to be a new
form of mass transit.
But it didn't attract the masses.
Having cost £60 million to build,
according to one report,
only four regular commuters
were using it.
Is it farewell to one
of London's least loved modes
of public transport?
We'll miss it, even if
the customers don't.
# Are you lonesome tonight?
# Do you miss me tonight?
# Are you sorry we drifted apart?
# Does your memory stray
to a brighter sunny day
# When I kissed you
and called you sweetheart? #
In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Evan Davis. Evan asks who is winning the diplomatic war between Britain and Russia.