United Kingdom showed once more that in the international relations it is one of the most pragmatic and realistic countries. At least when the Conservatives are in government.
On March 4 former spy Sergei Skripal – who is a former Russian Spy and became a double agent in 1995 by giving away over 300 Russian spies in Britain, so Russia definitely did not had a lot of love for him – and his daughter were found slumped on the bench. After the diagnosis, Britain’s Prime Minister publicly acknowledged that Russian-made nerve-agent, Novichok, was found inside Skripal’s and his daughter’s bodies.
What was the most impressive and daring was the Theresa May’s reaction: after getting all the relevant information ,without further delay Theresa May demanded an explanation from Russian government about how the nerve-agent was used on S. Skripal and gave 24 hours for the answers.
When no answers were given, T. May did what most other Western countries would not have dared to do by themselves: threatened that UK will expel 23 Russian diplomats from the country. Now they have 1 week to leave the country.
This shows perfectly that the Cold War has returned – albeit in a much milder form – as this expulsion is the largest since 1985 when another double agent Oleg Gordievsky defected.
Russia is definitely not a friend or ally of the West and it is very refreshing to see that the UK sees and understands this perfectly, better than most other countries in the West, in fact. T. May’s decision to expel the Russian diplomats is correct, especially when it is a public secret that Russia is using its diplomats as covert agents and “undeclared intelligence officers”. That was true when the USSR still existed; it is still true today.
Furthermore, the pressure that Theresa May is planning to impose to Russia is not limited just to the expulsion of the diplomats. The Prime Minister had also said that UK will likely increase checks on private flights, customs and freight from Russia – something that will limit Russian trade and freedom of movement of its citizens.
Vladimir Putin was also informed that all high-level bilateral contacts between Russia and the UK shall also be suspended. And indeed, how can there be discussions and other high-level interstate contact when one side does not listen? V. Putin is not cooperative-type of a guy, in case you haven’t noticed.
Even more importantly, UK is planning to freeze Russian state assets where there is evidence that these assets might be used to threaten the lives or property of British citizens or residents. Other plans for passing new laws to increase the UK defences against hostile state activity in the country have been mentioned as well.
United Kingdom is one of the global financial centres of the world. Using this kind of power can be particularly effective against Russia, especially considering how weak the Russian rouble is compared to 3 years ago and that Russian economy is not doing well, especially compared to the pre-crisis levels.
One of the best developments, though, is how the United States showed support for Britain. The US ambassador in the UK, Jonathan Allen, had stated that United States will stand with Britain in “absolute solidarity”. This united Western front is of extreme importance in showing to Russia that the “divide and conquer” tactics that it liked so much before, will not work this time.
A lot of other Western countries, especially during Gerhard Shroeder’s time, were not aware enough of Russia’s threat. It took the disasters of Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014 for most of the Western European countries to wake and realize who Russia really is.
Thankfully, it seems to have worked. And the United Kingdom once more showed that they are among the first ones to understand reality in international relations for what it really is.
Britain should be proud.