When Theresa May became Britain’s Prime Minister I wrote a piece for The Duran in which I said that her past record (including her surprisingly brave and rational stance during the Litvinenko affair) suggested a person with a level head, which at least opens the possibility that she might be willing to move from the ultra hardline and self-destructive stance towards Russia that Britain has been following under Theresa May’s predecessor David Cameron. I have also pointed out that the same might be true of Boris Johnson, the new British Foreign Secretary.
The first indication that this might indeed be the case and that relations between Britain and Russia might be about to thaw has been provided by the Kremlin’s summary of Theresa May’s first telephone conversation with Putin, which took place on Tuesday. The Kremlin reports that
“During a discussion of current bilateral issues, both leaders expressed dissatisfaction with the current parameters of cooperation in the political, trade and economic spheres. They agreed to step up joint work in some areas.”
That suggests that Theresa May agrees that that the present state of relations between Britain and Russia is highly unsatisfactory. It also suggests a joint effort to improve relations. Since it was not Russia that acted to bring relations to their present poor level it hints at disagreement on the part of Theresa May with the hardline towards Russia taken by Cameron and a desire on her part to reverse it.
Moreover Theresa May has agreed that Britain will participate in the celebrations Russia is planning to commemorate the British Arctic convoys that delivered war material to Russia during the Second World War – an event of high symbolism that will draw attention to the two countries’ wartime alliance against Nazi Germany and fascism – whilst she and Putin also agreed to meet soon, almost certainly at the forthcoming G20 summit meeting in China in September.
No-one should have over high expectations of a dramatic reversal in Britain’s relations with Russia. Britain remains the US’s staunchest ally, and there simply cannot be a true warming of relations between Britain and Russia whilst relations between the US and Russia remain so bad. Besides, as any reader of the British media can see for themselves, the level of hostility to Russia on the part of Britain’s overwhelmingly Atlanticist establishment is so strong that it would require a leader of Margaret Thatcher’s authority to pull off a genuine warming of relations even if the state of international relations made it possible. Having said this any thawing of the present glacial state of relations between the two countries, and any move to return Anglo-Russian relations to a more rational level where the British actually talk and listen to the Russians instead of simply shouting at them, can only be welcomed.