Russia will brush off Litvinenko accusations – and there is little that can be done about it

    Press/Media: Expert Comment


    Relations between the UK and Russia hit rock bottom after the annexation of Crimea and Russia’s involvement in the Donbas war. This, incidentally, was what tipped the British government into approving a public inquiry into Litvinenko’s death, something it had been reluctant to do previously.

    The big question, though, is what will happen now. The British government talks of action, but can it really do anything? This is, after all, an old story and there is nothing in the report that was not already known to British intelligence or the British government.

    Russia, meanwhile, is a significant global player and will have to be engaged with in one form or another, not least in the quest to resolve the conflict in Syria and defeat Islamic State.

    Russia is not the only country in the world to fall well short of Western values on human rights, the rule of law and democracy, but it is perhaps the most troublesome for Europe, not least because of its geographical proximity to the EU and its huge size and military power, including nuclear weapons.

    This makes what happens in Russia of equal or even greater importance to similar trends in China or Saudi Arabia. So, the Litvinenko findings bring forth the dilemmas for the British government it hoped it could bury: how to reconcile moral principles with hardcore realities of international politics and economics.

    Period22 Jan 2016

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