Sleepwalking towards a row with Russia

The UK only has itself to blame for the latest spat with Russia as the government has made error after error in its dealings with Russia over the last ten years.

Don't for one moment think that I am excusing the death of Alexander Litvinenko and the Russian's complicity in it. I don't. however, with the UK government cow towing to the Russian's for years, they must have easily believed that the UK government would do nothing.

Ever since Vladimir Putin took over in Russia, the signs have been clear for everyone to see that democracy has been under threat. The rule of law in Russia has become, at best, patchy and at worst, selective, with Mr Putin and his cronies selecting which laws will be enforced and which will be made up.

Mr Putin's political foes have had their business empires destroyed, been locked up or had to seek refuge abroad, but throughout this time the UK government has said nothing. Indeed, the UK has continued to praise Mr Putin because he has been an ally in the "war on terror".

Throughout the last ten years too, Mr Putin and Russia has become the largest external supplier of energy to the UK, again making Britain far more likely to acquiesce to Russian demands and also allowing Russia to become much more bolder in its actions. The stupidity of making the UK dependent on the energy reserves of what is to most people a dictatorship, was a stupid mistake for this government to take.

Then, even in recent weeks, UK firms like Shell and BP have been robbed of assets in Russia by Russian courts who act on the personal orders of the Russian government.

So why shouldn't the Russians feel they would get away with murdering Litvineko. After all, they have been getting away with murder for many years in the way they treat their neighbours, their citizens, their democratic processes and the UK government.

Action should have been taken years ago to keep Putin on the straight and narrow. it's too late acting tough now.


Masha said...

It makes me laugh, when reading these stupid lines about Putin as a world threat to democracy and so on. What do _you_ personally know about how it is going _here_, and what on earth gives your Miliband right to give instructions to a fully sovereign state about changing its Constitution?
Why are the UK authorities keeping whining about getting Lugovoi and at the same time are refusing to extradite Berezovsky and Zakaev whose charge is completely proved?

You can google a few names - Abu Hamza al-Masri, Lotfi Raissi, Babar Ahmad, Rashid Ramda, - I promise this will be of interest to you :)

Norfolk Blogger said...

There is a difference, although I take your point about dissidents in the UK.

Anonymous said...

Fully agree with Masha. Lugovoy case is an example of double standards in so called "democratic" countries. BTW during Putin's ministry Russia has never sent its army abroad in contrast to UK or US.

Anonymous said...

So when will your troops leave Georgia and Moldova then ?

David Allen said...

The government is right to take a very hard line over Lugovoy. It is not beyond the ability of the FSB to have someone murdered and get away with it. Litvinenko could have been killed thru a staged car crash, mugging, burglary-gone-wrong or any number of ways. Our govt. might then have suspected the Russian government of involvement, but would have been very hard pressed to prove it. However, to kill Litvinenko using a very high profile FSB agent, using a substance (Polonium) that could only have been sourced from one of a handful of governments, and a method moreover that would leave a perfect trail from Moscow to London and back in the footsteps of Lugovoy shows that the Russian government not only wanted Litvinenko dead, they arrogantly wanted it to be completely obvious to everyone that they were responsible. Presumably this was to send a message to the British government that they shouldn't give houseroom to Russian dissidents or think that they could protect them by giving them British citizenship. The message was presumably meant also for Russian expats (especially Berezovsky) here in the UK that they could be pursued and killed at will even in the UK. Berezovsky of course bought houses in Muswell Hill for Litvinenko and his family to live in _ and also for a Chechen dissident.

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