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Putin Our Point Across

The rancorous war of words in the diplomatic spat between the UK and Russia in the aftermath of the Salisbury nerve agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia has included some old tactics from the Cold War era.

Namely, tit-for-tat Embassy expulsions with denial from Moscow of any wrong doing and from London support has been sought from allies for a meaningful response to the attack. The responses from allies are both supportive and ambiguous such is the nature of international alliances and political deal-making.

However, unless solid international sanctions are both implement and maintained. What is the most effective response without resorting to the dangerous or unnecessary?

The most assured retaliatory action would be restrictions on people connected to the Kremlin regime. There’s no point in targeting people who are trying to support another political viewpoint in Russia or those trying to make their living here in the UK who just happen to be Russian or indeed vital gas supplies that affect everyone else.

Restrict access or deny actions to Kremlin-connected oligarchs’ assets and privileges. London property agents, art dealers, wealth managers and posh boarding schools may not like it. But it would have the desired effect over time as that’s what appeals in the UK to them, also divorce courts, tax accountants and PR consultants.

The UK doesn’t need to be petty either so letting RT keep its broadcasting licence is a right option to maintain. Furthermore, it’s useful to hear their point of view so to engage fully with it.

The UK has centuries of Russian dealings and the inherent knowledge to deal with Russia without evoking a Cold War relationship or worse. Russian strategy is once rules are established to regard them as a baseline and then to grab more of whatever is the subject under negotiation.

Time to stand up and play the game by being firm and tough, don’t overreact or show weakness and by doing so in time we’ll reach a new understanding and position of mutual respect. If the West hadn’t driven home its advantage so hard in the 1990s and taken a firmer hold of then President Yeltsin’s outstretched vodka-soaked hand we may have a firmer ally than a peeved adversary bent on re-establishing its global ambitions and perceived status.

The UK government has people to consult over this incident. Now is the time to use them and reshape UK-Russian relations before we sink into another wasteful era when there are other global issues to address such as post-Brexit trade deals, climate issues over fossil fuels and renewable energy technologies all of which effect Russia too.


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