epa06635487 Pigeons fly in front of Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry building in Moscow, Russia, 29 March 2018. Fourteen countries in Europe, USA, Canada and Australia supported the decision of Britain to expel Russian diplomats, more than one hundred all together, related to the the use of a chemical weapon in the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal, a former Russian intelligence official, and his daughter, Yulia, in Salisbury, England, on 04 March 2018.  EPA/MAXIM SHIPENKOV
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Moscow, Russia. Dozens of countries have expelled Russian diplomats after the use of a nerve agent to poison a former Russian spy and his daughter / EPA

Putin has scored a spectacular own goal and is now more isolated than at any time since he came to power



It is a measure of the growing international isolation that Russia is suffering as a result of the Salisbury poisoning that countries as far apart as Moldova, Australia and Ireland have now agreed to join the diplomatic offensive against Moscow.

The Kremlin clearly had no expectation that by allowing a Russian-made military grade nerve agent to be used in the attempted assassination of former military officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia on British soil, it would provoke such a furious response from the international community.

The Russians, of course, deny any involvement in the Salisbury poisoning and have sought to lay the blame elsewhere, including the ludicrous proposition that it was carried out by British agents using nerve gas made by the Porton Down chemical weapons research establishment in Dorset as part of a dastardly plot to discredit Moscow.

This kind of nonsense is very much in keeping with the Russians’ modus operandi under President Vladimir Putin, who himself served as a senior KGB officer before choosing a career in politics.

At the heart of any Russian intelligence operation lies the concept of deniability – making sure there is no evidence to link an operation back to Mother Russia. This might explain why the British authorities currently have an estimated 14 cases relating to the unsolved deaths of Russian dissidents who have recently died in mysterious circumstances.

The Russians no doubt believed they could employ the same tactic in the assassination attempt on Mr Skripal as he enjoyed a casual Sunday lunch in the heart of rural England.

But they gravely miscalculated the ability of Britain’s intelligence services to discover the nature of the nerve agent used in the assassination attempt (Mr Skripal and his daughter have been in a coma ever since and are said to be highly unlikely to recover).

And they totally misjudged the resolve of British Prime Minister Theresa May, not only to hold the Russians accountable but to organise a global diplomatic boycott of the Kremlin.

Consequently Mr Putin now finds himself more isolated than at any time since he came to power, an embarrassing predicament for someone who sees himself on a par with the American and Chinese leaders. And it also leaves him with little room for manoeuvre.

To date, more than two dozen countries and international organisations such as Nato have joined the global international boycott of Moscow in support of Britain, with more than 100 Russian diplomats sent home.

Many of these so-called diplomats are nothing of the sort but have been working as covert operatives on behalf of Russia’s FSB intelligence service and have been spying on the host nations that granted them diplomatic status. Thus, by orchestrating the diplomatic expulsions, Mrs May has also overseen the most damaging assault on Russia’s overseas intelligence-gathering operation since the end of the Cold War.

Indeed, the reason Mrs May has been able to orchestrate such an impressive global response in support of Britain’s position is the quality of the intelligence Britain has been able to provide about Russia’s involvement in the attack, including the precise location of where the nerve agent originated. The Russians may continue to deny their involvement but no one is listening.

Mr Putin, by contrast, finds himself very limited in the options he can take by way of retaliation.

He would, of course, like to orchestrate his own global diplomatic offensive against all those countries who have provided moral support to the British position.

But who, in reality, can Mr Putin call on to back Russia’s position? Iran, Syria, North Korea? Qatar? None of these countries have the kind of diplomatic clout to match the impressive array of countries that have backed Britain.

And Mr Putin needs to tread very carefully when it comes to using any of the more clandestine tools in the Russian arsenal, such as cyber-attacks and disseminating fake news, to retaliate against Britain and its allies.

Another problem Mr Putin faces is that, while in the past many of his transgressions have been overlooked by the international community, now politicians are far more aware of Russian attempts to interfere in their domestic affairs, not least because of Moscow’s well-documented attempts to meddle in the 2016 US presidential election.

Consequently foreign governments are only too aware of the activities of Mr Putin’s troll factory in St Petersburg and the fake news pumped out on state-owned Russian televisions stations such as RT.

The other consideration Mr Putin needs to take into account as he weighs his response is that he must not do anything to jeopardise the football World Cup due to take place in Russia in three months’ time.

The notion of organising an international boycott of the games has already been raised in Britain and it is not beyond the realms of possibility that it might become a reality if Russia were found to be involved in another gross breach of international protocols, such as initiating military action against one of the Baltic states.

The truth, though, is that Mr Putin's options are very limited when it comes to replying to the anti-Russia diplomatic offensive. He can, it is true, retaliate by expelling the diplomats of those countries who have come to Britain's aid in a classic tit-for-tat diplomatic response.

But by contrast to the international isolation Russia is now suffering, such measures are modest by comparison. For the only conclusion to be reached from Russia’s involvement in the Salisbury poisoning is that Mr Putin has scored a spectacular own goal, one from which it will take him many years to recover.

Con Coughlin is the Daily Telegraph’s defence and foreign affairs editor

CONFIRMED LINE-UP

Elena Rybakina (Kazakhstan)
Ons Jabeur (Tunisia)
Maria Sakkari (Greece)
Barbora Krejčíková (Czech Republic)
Beatriz Haddad Maia (Brazil)
Jeļena Ostapenko (Latvia)
Liudmila Samsonova
Daria Kasatkina 
Veronika Kudermetova 
Caroline Garcia (France) 
Magda Linette (Poland) 
Sorana Cîrstea (Romania) 
Anastasia Potapova 
Anhelina Kalinina (Ukraine)  
Jasmine Paolini (Italy) 
Emma Navarro (USA) 
Lesia Tsurenko (Ukraine)
Naomi Osaka (Japan) - wildcard
Emma Raducanu (Great Britain) - wildcard

Kill

Director: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat

Starring: Lakshya, Tanya Maniktala, Ashish Vidyarthi, Harsh Chhaya, Raghav Juyal

Rating: 4.5/5

Seemar’s top six for the Dubai World Cup Carnival:

1. Reynaldothewizard
2. North America
3. Raven’s Corner
4. Hawkesbury
5. New Maharajah
6. Secret Ambition

How I connect with my kids when working or travelling

Little notes: My girls often find a letter from me, with a joke, task or some instructions for the afternoon, and saying what I’m excited for when I get home.
Phone call check-in: My kids know that at 3.30pm I’ll be free for a quick chat.
Highs and lows: Instead of a “how was your day?”, at dinner or at bathtime we share three highlights; one thing that didn’t go so well; and something we’re looking forward to.
I start, you next: In the morning, I often start a little Lego project or drawing, and ask them to work on it while I’m gone, then we’ll finish it together.
Bedtime connection: Wake up and sleep time are important moments. A snuggle, some proud words, listening, a story. I can’t be there every night, but I can start the day with them.
Undivided attention: Putting the phone away when I get home often means sitting in the car to send a last email, but leaving it out of sight between home time and bedtime means you can connect properly.
Demystify, don’t demonise your job: Help them understand what you do, where and why. Show them your workplace if you can, then it’s not so abstract when you’re away - they’ll picture you there. Invite them into your “other” world so they know more about the different roles you have.

Nepotism is the name of the game

Salman Khan’s father, Salim Khan, is one of Bollywood’s most legendary screenwriters. Through his partnership with co-writer Javed Akhtar, Salim is credited with having paved the path for the Indian film industry’s blockbuster format in the 1970s. Something his son now rules the roost of. More importantly, the Salim-Javed duo also created the persona of the “angry young man” for Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan in the 1970s, reflecting the angst of the average Indian. In choosing to be the ordinary man’s “hero” as opposed to a thespian in new Bollywood, Salman Khan remains tightly linked to his father’s oeuvre. Thanks dad. 

Sun jukebox

Rufus Thomas, Bear Cat (The Answer to Hound Dog) (1953)

This rip-off of Leiber/Stoller’s early rock stomper brought a lawsuit against Phillips and necessitated Presley’s premature sale to RCA.

Elvis Presley, Mystery Train (1955)

The B-side of Presley’s final single for Sun bops with a drummer-less groove.

Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two, Folsom Prison Blues (1955)

Originally recorded for Sun, Cash’s signature tune was performed for inmates of the titular prison 13 years later.

Carl Perkins, Blue Suede Shoes (1956)

Within a month of Sun’s February release Elvis had his version out on RCA.

Roy Orbison, Ooby Dooby (1956)

An essential piece of irreverent juvenilia from Orbison.

Jerry Lee Lewis, Great Balls of Fire (1957)

Lee’s trademark anthem is one of the era’s best-remembered – and best-selling – songs.

The Specs

Engine: 1.6-litre 4-cylinder petrol
Power: 118hp
Torque: 149Nm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Price: From Dh61,500
On sale: Now

Results

2pm: Maiden (PA) Dh 40,000 (Dirt) 1,200m, Winner: AF Thayer, Tadhg O’Shea (jockey), Ernst Oertel (trainer).

2.30pm: Maiden (PA) Dh 40,000 (D) 1,200m, Winner: AF Sahwa, Nathan Crosse, Mohamed Ramadan.

3pm: Handicap (PA) Dh 40,000 (D) 1,000m, Winner: AF Thobor, Szczepan Mazur, Ernst Oertel.

3.30pm: Handicap (PA) Dh 40,000 (D) 2,000m, Winner: AF Mezmar, Szczepan Mazur, Ernst Oertel.

4pm: Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum Cup presented by Longines (TB) Dh 200,000 (D) 1,700m, Winner: Galvanize, Nathan Cross, Doug Watson.

4.30pm: Handicap (PA) Dh 40,000 (D) 1,700m, Winner: Ajaj, Bernardo Pinheiro, Mohamed Daggash.

School counsellors on mental well-being

Schools counsellors in Abu Dhabi have put a number of provisions in place to help support pupils returning to the classroom next week.

Many children will resume in-person lessons for the first time in 10 months and parents previously raised concerns about the long-term effects of distance learning.

Schools leaders and counsellors said extra support will be offered to anyone that needs it. Additionally, heads of years will be on hand to offer advice or coping mechanisms to ease any concerns.

“Anxiety this time round has really spiralled, more so than from the first lockdown at the beginning of the pandemic,” said Priya Mitchell, counsellor at The British School Al Khubairat in Abu Dhabi.

“Some have got used to being at home don’t want to go back, while others are desperate to get back.

“We have seen an increase in depressive symptoms, especially with older pupils, and self-harm is starting younger.

“It is worrying and has taught us how important it is that we prioritise mental well-being.”

Ms Mitchell said she was liaising more with heads of year so they can support and offer advice to pupils if the demand is there.

The school will also carry out mental well-being checks so they can pick up on any behavioural patterns and put interventions in place to help pupils.

At Raha International School, the well-being team has provided parents with assessment surveys to see how they can support students at home to transition back to school.

“They have created a Well-being Resource Bank that parents have access to on information on various domains of mental health for students and families,” a team member said.

“Our pastoral team have been working with students to help ease the transition and reduce anxiety that [pupils] may experience after some have been nearly a year off campus.

"Special secondary tutorial classes have also focused on preparing students for their return; going over new guidelines, expectations and daily schedules.”

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Haltia.ai
Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends

Super Saturday race card

4pm: Mahab Al Shimaal Group 3 | US$350,000 | (Dirt) | 1,200m
4.35pm: Al Bastakiya Listed | $300,000 | (D) | 1,900m
5.10pm: Nad Al Sheba Turf Group 3 | $350,000 | (Turf) | 1,200m
5.45pm: Burj Nahaar Group 3 | $350,000 | (D) | 1,600m
6.20pm: Dubai City of Gold Group 2 | $300,000 | (T) | 2,410m
6.55pm: Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 Group 1 | $600,000 | (D) | 2,000m
7.30pm: Jebel Hatta Group 1 | $400,000 | (T) | 1,800m

What went into the film

25 visual effects (VFX) studios

2,150 VFX shots in a film with 2,500 shots

1,000 VFX artists

3,000 technicians

10 Concept artists, 25 3D designers

New sound technology, named 4D SRL

 

THE SPECS

Engine: 3.6-litre V6

Transmission: eight-speed automatic

Power: 285bhp

Torque: 353Nm

Price: TBA

On sale: Q2, 2020

The Specs

Price, base Dh379,000
Engine 2.9-litre, twin-turbo V6
Gearbox eight-speed automatic
Power 503bhp
Torque 443Nm
On sale now

About Okadoc

Date started: Okadoc, 2018

Founder/CEO: Fodhil Benturquia

Based: Dubai, UAE

Sector: Healthcare

Size: (employees/revenue) 40 staff; undisclosed revenues recording “double-digit” monthly growth

Funding stage: Series B fundraising round to conclude in February

Investors: Undisclosed

Name: Brendalle Belaza

From: Crossing Rubber, Philippines

Arrived in the UAE: 2007

Favourite place in Abu Dhabi: NYUAD campus

Favourite photography style: Street photography

Favourite book: Harry Potter

Schedule for show courts

Centre Court - from 4pm UAE time

Johanna Konta (6) v Donna Vekic

Andy Murray (1) v Dustin Brown

Rafael Nadal (4) v Donald Young

Court 1 - from 4pm UAE time

Kei Nishikori (9) v Sergiy Stakhovsky

Qiang Wang v Venus Williams (10)

Beatriz Haddad Maia v Simona Halep (2)

Court 2 - from 2.30pm

Heather Watson v Anastasija Sevastova (18)

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (12) v Simone Bolelli

Florian Mayer v Marin Cilic (7)

Our legal consultants

Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

EMIRATES'S REVISED A350 DEPLOYMENT SCHEDULE

Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates

RESULTS

6.30pm: Al Maktoum Challenge Round-1 Group 1 (PA) Dh119,373 (Dirt) 1,600m
Winner: Brraq, Adrie de Vries (jockey), Jean-Claude Pecout (trainer)

7.05pm: Handicap (TB) Dh102,500 (D) 1,200m
Winner: Taamol, Connor Beasley, Ali Rashid Al Raihe.

7.40pm: Handicap (TB) Dh105,000 (Turf) 1,800m
Winner: Eqtiraan, Connor Beasley, Ali Rashid Al Raihe.

8.15pm: UAE 1000 Guineas Trial (TB) Dh183,650 (D) 1,400m
Winner: Soft Whisper, Pat Cosgrave, Saeed bin Suroor.

9.50pm: Handicap (TB) Dh105,000 (D) 1,600m
Winner: Hypothetical, Mickael Barzalona, Salem bin Ghadayer.

9.25pm: Handicap (TB) Dh95,000 (T) 1,000m
Winner: Etisalat, Sando Paiva, Ali Rashid Al Raihe

MATCH SCHEDULE

Uefa Champions League semi-final, first leg
Tuesday, April 24 (10.45pm)

Liverpool v Roma

Wednesday, April 25
Bayern Munich v Real Madrid (10.45pm)

Europa League semi-final, first leg
Thursday, April 26

Arsenal v Atletico Madrid (11.05pm)
Marseille v Salzburg (11.05pm)

Company Profile

Name: HyveGeo
Started: 2023
Founders: Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr Samsurin Welch, Eva Morales and Dr Harjit Singh
Based: Cambridge and Dubai
Number of employees: 8
Industry: Sustainability & Environment
Funding: $200,000 plus undisclosed grant
Investors: Venture capital and government

The National photo project

Chris Whiteoak, a photographer at The National, spent months taking some of Jacqui Allan's props around the UAE, positioning them perfectly in front of some of the country's most recognisable landmarks. He placed a pirate on Kite Beach, in front of the Burj Al Arab, the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland at the Burj Khalifa, and brought one of Allan's snails (Freddie, which represents her grandfather) to the Dubai Frame. In Abu Dhabi, a dinosaur went to Al Ain's Jebel Hafeet. And a flamingo was taken all the way to the Hatta Mountains. This special project suitably brings to life the quirky nature of Allan's prop shop (and Allan herself!).

KEY DATES IN AMAZON'S HISTORY

July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Kinetic 7
Started: 2018
Founder: Rick Parish
Based: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Industry: Clean cooking
Funding: $10 million
Investors: Self-funded

ASHES FIXTURES

1st Test: Brisbane, Nov 23-27 
2nd Test: Adelaide, Dec 2-6
3rd Test: Perth, Dec 14-18
4th Test: Melbourne, Dec 26-30
5th Test: Sydney, Jan 4-8

Should late investors consider cryptocurrencies?

Wealth managers recommend late investors to have a balanced portfolio that typically includes traditional assets such as cash, government and corporate bonds, equities, commodities and commercial property.

They do not usually recommend investing in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies due to the risk and volatility associated with them.

“It has produced eye-watering returns for some, whereas others have lost substantially as this has all depended purely on timing and when the buy-in was. If someone still has about 20 to 25 years until retirement, there isn’t any need to take such risks,” Rupert Connor of Abacus Financial Consultant says.

He adds that if a person is interested in owning a business or growing a property portfolio to increase their retirement income, this can be encouraged provided they keep in mind the overall risk profile of these assets.

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others

The burning issue

The internal combustion engine is facing a watershed moment – major manufacturer Volvo is to stop producing petroleum-powered vehicles by 2021 and countries in Europe, including the UK, have vowed to ban their sale before 2040. The National takes a look at the story of one of the most successful technologies of the last 100 years and how it has impacted life in the UAE. 

Read part four: an affection for classic cars lives on

Read part three: the age of the electric vehicle begins

Read part one: how cars came to the UAE

 

The Florida Project

Director: Sean Baker

Starring: Bria Vinaite, Brooklynn Prince, Willem Dafoe

Four stars