Stacey Kirk writes:
In the immediate hours following charges laid by the British Government against two named Russian spies, for the Novichok attack on the streets of Salisbury, New Zealand offered no formal condemnation of the Russian Government. It did come later, once it was asked for.
But it didn’t go unnoticed by the diplomatic community. It was a second offence after the Government was slow off the mark to quash plans to resurrect a Russian free trade deal, in the aftermath of the attack in March.
Call it diplomacy, or perhaps put it down to the most British of manners, but considerable leeway was given to our Government this week as the UK waited patiently for a second statement to be released.
“We very much hope that with the full intelligence briefing that the prime minister and deputy prime minister will have had, that they will be able to condemn in unequivocal terms, what has happened,” British Minister of State for Asia & the Pacific Mark Field said.
“But I fully appreciate and understand there is a great desire for them to see the intelligence that is right and proper in the circumstances.”
Arguably something the minister should not have had to feel the need to say. The Government did condemn the attack once questions were put to them. But again, raised eyebrows where there needn’t be.
Quite unusual that a British Minister had to publicly prompt our Government before it would publicly state that the Russian state was behind the poisoning.
Since Peters became Foreign Minister there have been half a dozen incidents where we have appeared sympathetic to Putin. Off memory they are:
- Desire to pursue an FTA with Russia
- Said no proof Russia behind downing of Malaysian Airlines flight
- Said no proof Russia interfered in US election
- Didn’t condemn Russia for the poisoning attack in the UK when almost every other Western country did
- Didn’t impose any sanctions on Russia
- Didn’t condemn Russia again when charges laid against Russian GRU agents for the poisoning
Now this is not a coincidence. Every single time there is a public issue about Russia, the NZ Foreign Minister is either on the wrong side of it, or has to be coaxed to get to the same position as the other democratic countries.