Soviet Union-era spokesman Vladimir Pozner says Russia's link to ex-spy poisoning 'makes no sense'

Soviet Union-era spokesman Vladimir Pozner says Russia's link to ex-spy poisoning 'makes no sense'

Soviet Union-era spokesman Vladimir Pozner says Russia's link to ex-spy poisoning 'makes no sense'

Updated 17 March 2018, 10:15 AEDT

Soviet Union-era spokesman and journalist Vladimir Pozner says "it makes no sense" that Russia would be behind the poisoning of a former spy in England.

Soviet Union-era spokesman and journalist Vladimir Pozner says he doubts Russia is behind the poisoning of a former spy because "it makes no sense".

Key points:

  • Russia failed to meet Ms May's ultimatum and explain how the toxin came to be used on British soil
  • UK-Russia relations have plunged because of the nerve agent scandal
  • Vladimir Putin is expected to win the election by a landslide this weekend

This comes as leaders from the United States, France and Germany have backed British Prime Minister Theresa May in accusing Russia for the nerve agent attack in the southern English city of Salisbury.

Russia has denied any involvement in the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, who have been in critical condition in hospital since they were found unconscious on March 4.

Mr Pozner said there had been no proof the Russians were responsible, and that Ms May came to the conclusion they were after Moscow failed to meet her ultimatum and explain how the toxin came to be used on British soil.

"To do this, just before the presidential elections in Russia, to do this with the World Cup coming up, it just makes no sense really, it's not a mistake — it's worse, it's stupid, if they did it," he told the ABC.

"And Putin is a man who worked for the KGB, and then the FSB, and even headed it, I'm sure has a very good idea that there's always a remote possibility that something like this might be discovered, and why risk it?"

Ms May on Wednesday expelled 23 Russian diplomats, severed high-level contacts with Moscow and vowed both open and covert actions following the attack. Moscow said it could in turn expel 23 British diplomats.

Mr Pozner said he hoped Russia's response "would be one of 'well we're not going to play this game'", and not tit for tat.

Russia-UK relations never worse

The nerve attack on the Russian double agent has also poisoned Britain's relationship with Russia, plunging it to a level not seen since the Cold War.

Mr Pozner believes relations between the two countries have never been worse than they are today.

But he said generational change in Russia as well as the increasing awareness of the danger of a nuclear war — which could lead to talks — gave him hope that relations could improve.

"Today, Russia is run by Soviet people, people who were born and grow up in the Soviet Union, in a system that no longer exists, and they're trying to cope with a new system, and they're not doing very well, but they're the ones in power," he said.

"Another generation's going to come in and they're going to change everything, for that you have to wait, you have to have some kind of patience."

Putin faces 'no real competition'

For now, Mr Pozner firmly believes there is no real competition against Mr Putin, who is set to win the presidential election this weekend.

"There's not the remotest chance that any of the other candidates can win, and that's not a good situation," he said.

"The fact of the matter is that even the most objective and even anti-Putin public opinion polls confirm the fact that he has the support of about 82 per cent of the population, so when you have that kind of support, you're going to win, there's no two ways about it."

And Russians supported him, he said, because he restored the sense of pride to the people that was taken away after the Soviet Union collapsed.

"The West kind of was poo-pooing Russia, saying, you're a second-rate country, you lost the Cold War, just shut up, we don't want to hear from you", he said.

"And you know the Russians are a very proud people and they consider themselves to be a great nation, much like the Americans they feel that they have a mission to accomplish and it was really for them a very painful period of about 10 years.

"And along comes this man, and no one knew him really, and in a rather short period, was able to restore this feeling that "we are a great nation" for most Russians."