UNITED KINGDOM: Now that the UK is all set to unravel a new Prime Minister after Conservative leader Boris Johnson resigned in mid-July, Russia is assessing the status of its ties with the country. The Kremlin notified on Monday that it could not rule out the possibility that dire relations with Britain would worsen under the country’s next Prime Minister.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who has been a forerunner of the elections and garnered intense scorn from Moscow, is projected to beat rival Rishi Sunak and become the country’s new PM. The decision will come when the result of a ballot of Conservative party members is announced at 1130 GMT.
When asked by reporters about the shift in UK ties, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov replied, “I wouldn’t like to say that things can change for the worse because it’s hard to imagine anything worse.”
“I don’t think we can hope for anything positive,” Peskov added.
Peskov’s remarks alerted the rocky nature of the UK’s relationship with Russia amid the Ukraine conflict. The international community, along with numerous western countries, including Britain, exploited the conflict and sided with Ukraine on humanitarian grounds as well as to gain political mileage.
Truss and former finance minister Rishi Sunak battled with each other in heavy “anti-Russian rhetoric” to gain points on the campaign trail as the Russia-Ukraine conflict became a major crisis point in most debates and interviews.
“But unfortunately, this cannot be ruled out, given that the contenders for the post of British prime minister competed with each other in anti-Russian rhetoric, in threats to take further steps against our country, and so on. Therefore, I don’t think that we can hope for anything positive”, Peskov noted.
When asked if a congratulatory note would be sent on the election of a new PM, Peskov averted a straightforward answer and vaguely replied, “Let’s wait and see who becomes prime minister.”
Truss is widely recognized in Russia after her Moscow visit in February led to a bitter confrontation with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Reports emerged that the two held a rather vitriolic deliberation. Lavrov remarked that their conversation was like a dialogue between deaf and mute people, complaining many of the facts had “bounced off” her.
Russia’s foreign ministry has also openly mocked her seemingly distorted knowledge of geo-political terrains, including one occasion when she mixed up the Black and Baltic seas.
Truss openly challenged Lavrov at their meeting over Russia’s mobilized troops near Ukraine, saying: “I can’t see any reason for having 100,000 troops stationed on the border, apart from threatening Ukraine.” The irony is that despite Moscow’s denial of any invasion plans, Putin sent its troops two weeks later.
Since then, Britain has been one of Ukraine’s most active and vocal supporters, supplying it with diplomatic and military aid.
The trajectory of Russia and Britain’s relationship has been tensed and cold for years. It hit its lowest points with the infamous 2006 poisoning of former Russian security officer Alexander Litvinenko in London and the attempted murder of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter with a nerve agent in the English city of Salisbury in 2018.