Russian Ambassador to the UK Andrey Kelin called the 2021 Integrated Review of Security, Defense, Development and Foreign Policy a tightening of policies towards Russia, which the paper calls "the most acute threat to [the UK’s] security."
"This strategy, without doubt, is a step towards tightening the foreign policy vector. If we look at the 2015 version, then you will find language in regards to Russia that mention its aggressive behavior, while simultaneously speaking about the need for cooperation and interaction on global issues," the diplomat said.
"The same could be found in the NATO strategy, and approximately the same language is contained in the 2019 London NATO Summit declaration, which [stipulates] a bi-directional policy: containment on the one hand, and dialogue on another," he added.
"The new strategy has nothing of a sort. A quick review of the document reveals about 13 mentions of Russia in various combinations and sentences, but it is always tied to the word ‘threat’. There is not a single word about dialogue or cooperation," Kelin said.
"At some points, it actually puts smile on one’s face, because it speaks about cultural and informational expansion of Russia and China, which also threatens the UK. This is difficult to understand, especially considering that, just yesterday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that NATO does not feel any threat from Russia," the diplomat noted, TASS reports.
Reasons behind UK’s position
The envoy is certain that there are two reasons for this position - the pressing one and the historical one.
The latter, Kelin says, roots in the fact that the UK government allocates significant funding for defense amid an economic crisis.
"They need to justify it somehow, and they name the Russian threat as their justification," he said, calling the evidence unconvincing - including the "entirely fabricated" case regarding the poisoning of former Russian intelligence officer Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia, as well as violations of British borders by Russian planes and ships, "which never happened."
Speaking about the second aspect, Kelin noted that the UK historically considered itself a Russia’s opponent for some reason.
"We have no such sentiments. We were counting on new opportunities for development of relations, among other things, to open after Brexit, after the UK enters free sail, but, apparently, London choses a different course now," the envoy said.
"I think we will speak with the British about this bilaterally in the future," he said, adding that "Russia will act towards the UK exactly the same as the UK does towards Russia."
He pointed out those predictions of some media that London will directly call Russia an enemy did not come to fruition.
"In this case, probably, there would have been some qualitative changes, but it did not happen. […] As far as I understand, the language [in the Review] was amended," the envoy said, adding that London "dismantled bilateral relations" over recent years, "bringing them to the current sorry state."
Despite all that, political contacts between the two states remain, via Foreign Ministries and embassies, Kelin said. He also noted the growth of trade between the two states, as well as the fact that Russia is currently London’s 12th largest trade partner. He also mentioned the successful cooperation between Russia’s Roscosmos and the UK’s OneWeb on launching communication satellites, with over 100 out of 650 already in orbit, as well as the opening of new pharmaceutical production lines of UK’s AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline near Moscow.