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Monday, October 24, 2016

Relations between Moscow and London have reached a low point

According to Russian diplomats, relations between Russia and the UK are experiencing unprecedented decline and preserved only in the sphere of culture. London disagrees, and experts see potential for further deterioration of relations – even in spite of the fact that British businessmen want sanctions lifted, and the British in General are much warmer to the Russian Federation than their government.

“We do not believe that bilateral relations between the UK and Russia are frozen or are in a state of stagnation, – said Monday the British foreign Ministry. – The dialogue continues at all levels in areas where there is mutual interest”.

“In order to fulfill these tasks, the Kingdom should develop relations with the countries of the emerging markets – primarily China, India, Brazil. And Russia is among them”

“Bilateral relations have damaged the illegal annexation of Crimea and destabilization of Ukraine. It is clear that we have different objectives in Syria, – said RIA “Novosti”, the representative of the foreign Office. – We strive to defeat ISIL and to end the conflict, while Russia’s actions indicate that its priority is to support the Assad regime, and not the victory over ISIS.”

Previously, as already reported VZGLYAD, the Russian Ambassador in London Alexander Yakovenko said that the British side almost interrupted the political dialogue with Moscow. The Ambassador added that culture was the only area where bilateral cooperation has remained at the same level.

Yakovenko, in particular, said that a new round of deterioration of relations occurred after the meeting with political Director of the UK foreign office Simon Gass last week. He also noted, and the forced downsizing of the Embassy in London, caused by the refusal of the British authorities to extradite Russian diplomats visa. However, the Russian envoy still maintains regular contacts with members of Parliament and also hopes to meet with the leader of the labour party, Jeremy Corbin, whose recent victory in the party elections, according to the Russian diplomat, was “a radical breakthrough”.

Later on Monday the President’s press Secretary Dmitry Peskov added that the question of the resumption of contacts “the ball is on the side of the British colleagues.” “Indeed, the political dialogue is stalled, and Russia was not the initiator of this freeze,” – said Peskov. According to him, Moscow believes that “cooperation in countering modern challenges that we are facing is the issues related to the fight against terrorism, issues related to cross-border crime – they require bilateral cooperation”.

“Our relations in the post-Soviet period have never been regular, they consisted of UPS and downs, – said the newspaper VIEW Director of the Centre for British studies, Institute of Europe RAS, PhD Elena Ananyeva. – To understand the current policy of the conservative government, it is necessary, perhaps, to go back to 2007, when the Prime Minister became labour’s Gordon brown. Then the relationship is very upset because of the “Litvinenko case”. Nevertheless, trade and economic relations came as their own and somehow still continued collaboration on international issues, for example on the Middle East, Afghanistan, Iran, since both countries are members of the UN Security Council”.

Britain in 2008 demanded sanctions

As the expert reminds, after the conflict over South Ossetia relations again experienced a downturn. “Britain even urged the rest of the European Union to impose sanctions on Russia. Then came the financial crisis that has hit the UK. And then in October 2008, brown was recalled from Brussels as EU Commissioner Peter Mandelson and appointed him Minister of entrepreneurship. His first foreign visit Mandelson struck in Moscow. Despite the frustrated political relations, economic develop,” said Ananiev.

“Conservatives in early 2010 is expected to win the election, and in February of that year the then shadow foreign Secretary William Hague also arrived in Moscow to try and turn this dark page in relations between the two countries. In the end, David Cameron, after becoming Prime Minister, visited Moscow in the fall of 2011,” – said the analyst.

“You have to say about the background of such visits. In the national security strategy of great Britain, adopted in 2010 (by the way, soon to be published new), it was stated that Britain’s foreign policy objective is to reduce the budget deficit, and public debt as the economically weak country cannot occupy a significant position on the world stage – said Ananyev. – To perform these tasks, the United Kingdom should develop relations with the countries of the emerging markets – primarily China, India, Brazil. And Russia is among them”. So the goal is to play a significant role in world Affairs – the problem, according to experts, were marked that way.

“However, in connection with the Ukrainian crisis, the relations deteriorated sharply, and contacts at foreign Ministry level and between senior officials have been frozen. The foreign Office in response to the statement by Alexander Yakovenko wonder mentioned areas of “mutual interest”. It is obvious that many areas of the British foreign office simply did not consider as such, mentioning only Iran,” said Ananiev.

200 thousand of “Londongrad.”

Luke Harding, a former correspondent of the newspaper the Guardian in Moscow, lived in London after the foreign Ministry was stripped of his Russian visa in early 2011 for the “number of violations” of conditions of accreditation.

“Yes, official relations have long been very bad. It all started back with the Litvinenko case, said Harding in an interview with the newspaper LOOK. – I think the government has not forgotten the case. According to him, this murder was initiated by just Russia state. After a month or two it is expected a formal report – the results of the investigation into Litvinenko. After that, relations between London and Moscow will be even worse than today. It is my prediction”.

Economic ties have been preserved, but because of sanctions they are complicated, said a former correspondent. “Many British businessmen, particularly big businessmen who have invested in Russia are opposed to sanctions. But the government and the majority of the population still want to maintain sanctions,” said Harding.

After Yakovenko Harding argues that the cultural ties between the two countries was very active. “For example, now in London, at the science Museum, is a very large Russian exhibition “Cosmonauts: birth of the space age”. Yakovenko, by the way, was at her opening. My wife was at the show, said, well done, very interesting,” admitted Harding.

“I was recently in Finland at the book fair, and there was a lot of Russian writers. For example, I met Boris Akunin, who said that he now lives in London. Indeed, a lot of students, businessmen and writers and so forth living with us here in London. At least 200 thousand is the real Londongrad. I hear almost every day speaking Russian on the street. So, between people relations, on the contrary, now very close,” summed up the British reporter.

“However, the situation is moving”

“I would agree that it is still alive when in the field of culture, regarding live – in science, – says Elena Ananyeva. – I must say that this traditionally stable region, as trade and economic ties, also experiences in connection with the sanctions very dramatic failure – by tens of percent”.

However, the situation is very mobile, and make predictions very difficult, stated the expert. “You have to remember that Britain bind the “special relationship” with the United States, ever since the Second world war, including a very serious cooperation in the field of defense and intelligence. These relations Britain never wants to lose, so it will adapt to the course the United States.”

But to adjust to London is still not around, does not exclude Ananiev. Appears interesting, the particular turn with regard to relations with China. Just finished the Chinese President’s visit to the UK, and in November will be the Prime Minister of India – think about the objectives of foreign policy in national security strategy. And Britain, despite the negative attitude of the United States, one of the first Western countries to join Asian infrastructure investment Bank. Followed her to the Bank and joined other EU countries, including Germany,” he reminded her.

“By the way, ordinary Britons, polls show, are set to Russian is much softer than the government. For example, the conservatives in their election Manifesto called “aggressive Russia” the second largest threat after ISIS, al Qaeda and Iran, however, for most Britons it is not so,” said Ananiev.

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