The UK and Russia — A Relationship of Contrasts

  • One of the paradoxes is Russian-British relations.
  • Russian-British relations are complicated.
  • Russian Oligarch Roman Abramovich, who is close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, also owns Chelsea FC in the English Premier League.

Britain accused Russia of meddling into its elections. Last week, the UK Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament’s Russia Report was released. The committee was investigating Moscow’s interference in various election campaigns over the past year.

Formal ties between the United Kingdom and Russia started in 1553. In the early-21st century, especially following the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko in 2006, relations became strained, and since 2014 have grown unfriendly due to the Ukrainian crisis (2013–) and to activities by Russia such as the suspected 2018 poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, seen as hostile by the UK and by many in the Western world.

Sometimes politics becomes not just complicated, but paradoxical. One of the paradoxes is Russian-British relations. Of course, we assume that if there are countries on the world map, then there are some relations between them.

In this perspective, even if countries would like very much to test the effects of each other, if only for old memory and the audacity to meddle in matters that do not concern them, they can not afford it. There are economic or military-political capabilities with which to contend.

The Russian oligarchy, which has lost many of its opportunities in Russia, has not lost its habits and tactics. In London, they also tried to get involved in the game, around politics. Of course, this is more in order to ensure the safety of their financial capital, and not for the purpose of converting it into political capital. However, is there one without the other?

As a result, the Russian oligarchy not only entered the English political scene, regattas, having its own sports yachts, and hired athletes, polo matches or football battles, but also began to finance the political and other interests of individual political groups, naturally focusing on their own interests and goals. Russian Oligarch Roman Abramovich, who is close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, also owns Chelsea FC in the English Premier League.

Russian-British relations are complicated. Britain imposes sanctions against Russia in the Magnitsky Case. Britain says it is necessary to investigate the origin of the fortunes of Russian ex-oligarchs. Yet, at the same time it allows shows like Meet the Russians, who flaunt their fortunes. One of the cast members had her Mercedes decorated with Swarovski.

Recently, the UK accused Russia of violating international law pertaining the Krasnodar submarine. It was lost by British radar. As a result, this perception of each other requires dialogue, and therefore the adoption of certain decisions that might seem illogical in the conditions of apparent separation.

For Britain, this is normal when even an important strategic partner (including the EU and the US) suddenly becomes the subject of a political game. Of course, there is a risk in such a game. It is related to the fact that the object of the game, in fact, is the subject of international politics. As a rule, it is not the least important.

Moreover, the UK’s shortcoming is related to the relationship with the European Union. It should be noted that last week, the World Trade Organization agreed with the Kremlin’s view, that the EU principles for determining prices in anti-dumping investigations violate the organization’s rules.

Russians hold significant ownership stakes in at least two major English football clubs. Roman Abramovich owns Chelsea FC outright, and Maxim Demin owns 75% of A.F.C. Bournemouth.

The UK also supports the US pertaining to the China situation. However, the problem is that even if you try to completely exclude the influence of China on the island, there are still former colonies in which British economic interests remain. Chinese capital is actively entering these colonies. which is already cramped in the spaces of the middle kingdom.

This means that a competitive struggle is likely, in which Britain cannot do anything serious now in economic terms, and it is very likely almost zero in military-political terms.  The British army is gradually becoming not even a shadow of its former greatness,   but also loses the ability to be independently active in certain regions.

The situation with Hong Kong is extremely indicative in this regard, where, having structural capabilities (in the form of British NGOs), the UK has completely failed, and is now content with statements and readiness to initiate the issuance of British passports to Hong Kong nationals.

Russia will remain  a bargaining chip for the UK. This year, there will be more than one high-profile disclosure with memorable images pertaining to Russian indiscretions and violations of the law.

The UK and Russia will continue to have a paradoxical relationship.

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Christina Kitova

I spent most of my professional life in finance, insurance risk management litigation.

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