UK Foreign Chief Attacks Russia Before Moscow Visit

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Written by Alex Gorka; Originally appeared at strategic-culture.org

Boris Johnson arrives in Moscow on Dec. 21 to hold talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov the next day – the first visit to Russia by a British foreign minister in five years. International security issues are to top the agenda, including North Korea, Iran and regional stability in the Middle East as well as security for the 2018 World Cup soccer tournament in Russia. This is the time the bilateral relationship is at the lowest ebb due to the differences over Ukraine, Syria, and the allegations of Moscow’s meddling in the politics of various European countries. UK Prime Minister Theresa May has dramatically escalated attacks on Russia recently, accusing it of malign influence and hostile intentions.

UK Foreign Chief Attacks Russia Before Moscow Visit

Mr. Johnson gave an interview to the Sunday Times as he prepares for the trip to Moscow, in which he said that “Russia has not been so hostile to the UK or to Western interests since the end of the Cold War.” According to him, “In the Crimea, capturing a part of sovereign, besides, European territory from someone else’s country and holding it for the first time since 1945.” But the Crimean War, in which the UK and Russia fought each other, ended in 1856. Crimea was reunited with Russia in 2014. How does this reunification hurt British interests and where are the examples of hostility Mr. Johnson is talking about?

Besides, the minister is off base here. The first territory captured from someone else’s country was Kosovo forcibly taken away from Serbia by NATO in 1999 and declared “independent” in 2008.

He also mentions Montenegro. “We literally have Russian fingerprints on an assassination attempt in Montenegro,” the top British diplomat states. Mr. Johnson says “we” talking about an independent state, not a part of British Empire. And how does this example illustrate Russia’s hostility toward the UK?

Then finally Mr. Johnson addresses something Great Britain has an immediate relation to, saying “Look at what they’re doing with cyber- warfare, with attempted disruption of democratic processes in the UK.” The foreign secretary says he has “seen no evidence”that Russian meddling affected the outcome of the EU referendum but adds: “There’s some evidence that there has been Russian trolling on Facebook.” It begs the question how much did Russian Facebook activity target the Brexit vote? The Russia’s Internet Research Agency operatives placed three adverts on Facebook in the run-up to Britain’s 2016 referendum on EU membership, spending just 97 cents to allegedly raise the issue of immigration. “We have determined that these accounts associated with the IRA spent a small amount of money ($0.97) on advertisements that delivered to UK audiences during that time,” Facebook said. And there is nothing else to confirm the allegation that Russia was involved in any meddling.

So, that’s what all the talks about Russia’s hostility boils down to: Crimea, where not a single shot was fired, Montenegro, a murky story, which has no relation to the UK anyway, and the $0,97 cents allegedly spent to prompt Brexit.

“When I was a kid, Russia was a very scary proposition. The idea of friendship with Russia seemed to be absurd because Russia was threatening us with nuclear warheads,” Mr. Johnson continues. But it was the US, not Russia, who used a nuclear weapon. And it was nobody else but British PM Winston Churchill who urged to “wipe out” Moscow – the city Mr. Johnson is going to visit – with an A-bomb.

The minister made a historical allusion: “I was reading Thucydides’ history of the Peloponnesian war. It was obvious to me that Athens and its democracy, its openness, its culture and civilisation was the analogue of the United States and the West. Russia for me was closed, nasty, militaristic and antidemocratic — like Sparta. There was an extraordinary moment of hope and change when the [Berlin] wall came down and suddenly everything felt very different. It now feels as if that was a total illusion.” The country he compares with Sparta is not the Russian Federation but the Soviet Union, which does not exist anymore. The territory and political system were different. The times have changed. It should be noted that the wars between Sparta and Athens weakened Classical Greece to make it vulnerable to the conquests of Persia and Macedonia.

Of course, Mr. Johnson could not leave Syria out. “We need to talk to Russia about how they see the endgame in Syria. They have managed to maintain their client Bashar al-Assad in power in Damascus but they have not produced a political solution for Syria,” he says. Is the power of jihadists – the same people who commit terrorist acts in Europe – better that the power of President Assad? No political solution? But the only initiative that has brought tangible results is the Astana peace process with Moscow playing the first fiddle. Are the de-escalation zones, where cease-fire is established, worse than the battlefields, where fierce fighting seemed to last forever? Was it not Russia who organized and is going to host the meeting of “Congress of Syrian National Dialogue” in Sochi? Has the UK ever launched any diplomatic initiative of its own to stop the bloodshed?

Actually, there is nothing new in the views presented by Mr. Johnson in the interview. It’s the same old song and dance – whatever it is, Russia is behind it.

True, the divisions over Ukraine, the expansion of NATO to Russia’s borders and the differences over Syria have greatly deteriorated the relationship between the two countries.

Under the circumstances, it would be naïve to expect a diplomatic breakthrough at the upcoming meeting in Moscow. But as permanent members of the UN Security Council the UK and Russia have a special responsibility for global peace and security. Nothing prevents dialogue on specific issues where there is scope for at least partial alignment of the interests, such as Syria, Afghanistan, counter-terrorism, aviation security, the 2018 World Cup and business ties. As the Russian-British Business Forum 2017 held on 28−29 November 2017 showed, there are lucrative prospects for economic cooperation even despite the sanctions war. The two countries can fruitfully cooperate. Just a few days ago, Sir Alan Duncan, the Minister for Europe and the Americas, visited Moscow. The event showed that responsible dialogue is possible. According to him, it is “vital for the UK & Russia, as permanent members of UN Security Council, to engage. Especially where we disagree on international security issues.” That’s the kind of approach that should prevail during Boris Johnson’s visit. It’s more beneficial to talk shop than exchange unfounded accusations emphasizing the divisions instead of concentrating on the areas where cooperation is vital for both nations.

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  • Cyriak Papasissis

    ” The first territory captured from someone else’s country was Kosovo”. Not really Mr. Gorka. It was Cyprus Northern territories , 38% of the island state , invaded by Turkey in 1974 , with the covert – overt collusion of both UK and US military-political deep state structures. This breach of Int. Law was perpetrated in order to accommodate the ohh-so-precious NATO ally and the strategic interests of UK, US. 200.000 Cypriots lost their homes and ancestral lands . A bloody stain for UK , an eternal blemish in their post-colonial history.

    • s Slippy

      I didn’t know Cyprus was European territory, well lets call Iraq that as well while you are at it. Last time I checked the Greek army invaded and started to ethnically cleanse the Turkish- Cypriots and if it wasn’t for the Turks intervening the cypriots would have been no more. I for one do not condone occupation but ethnic cleansing of innocent children, women and men is far worse.

      Cyprus is for Cypriots, not for Greeks nor for Turks.

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      • VGA

        Cypriots are greeks, you uneducated mongoloid!

        • s Slippy

          Have we already resorted to ad hominem? Let me continue on your path then. You have an blatant thinning on your crown, a norwood 3 and to match your inferior genetics you display a doughy physique. In laymen terms you are hideous and your testosterone levels are visibly depleting.

          Last time I checked I was of caucasoid origin, im even 25% GREEK from my fathers side. By now you are probably able to guess what I study/do for a living

          • VGA

            Cypriots are greeks.

          • s Slippy

            Austrians are germanic people, should we scrap Austria all together and merge it with Germany? To further embarass you on this issue the Austrian government is now handing out Austrian passports to Italians who reside in northern Italy and speak german.

          • VGA

            “To firther embarass you”: If you ask Cypriots if they are greek, they will say yes. If you ask greeks living in Greece, they will agree.

  • Shy Talk

    Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson,The man is an idiot, an old Etonian buffoon, a middle class TW@

    • FlorianGeyer

      Boris is an embarrassment to all.

  • Barba_Papa

    >>There’s some evidence <<

    Translation: We don't have a shred of evidence that would hold up under scrutiny. Just believe us. You can trust us. Honest! Cut my own throat!

    Also, if he had studied the Peloponnese War he would not have equated Athens with the West as the good guys, and Sparta with Russia as the bad guys. As Athens was often the aggressor in that war, making some of the worst mistakes (Syracuse?) and the defeat of Athens was greeted with much relief by the rest of Greece. The Athenians basically built their shiny Acropolis from the money they took from the defense fund of the League of Delos.

    In a way Athens, not Rome, is the true classical analogy of the United States. Athens had the largest fleet, with which they defended their allies from the threat of Persia. Europe loves nothing more then for the US to defend it from the big brutal Russians. Athens used its military to extort money from its allies for its socalled defense, Donald Trump has already alluded to the same. Athens did not conquer a large land empire like Rome, instead it worked through a network of alliances and foreign bases. So does the US. Athenian foreign policy was easily hijacked by demagogues swaying its direct democracy. The most convincing ones could convince the Athenians to undertake crazy military undertakings (they should make a movie about Alcibiades). In the US foreign and domestic lobby groups are easily able to sway and hijack Congress to undertake crazy military undertakings.

    Athens may have been a democracy, Boris, with lots of shiny glitter and the Acropolis, which the UK did loot, but do you really want to model yourself on them? I'd hope not. For all their brutality the Spartans were far more cautious and enjoyed a lot more respect in classical Greece. And the practices of the Athenian democracy, its corruption and demagogues turned people of direct democracy for at least two millennia.

  • Ja Mega

    Boris the Johnson should face jail for aiding and abetting the violent coup in Ukraine and the instigation of hostilities between Russia and Ukraine and the escalation of hostilities in Ukraine. Russia never gave Crimea to Ukraine it was held by Ukraine as a ring to a lover, when the love ends the ring is taken back.

  • Tudor Miron

    Guys I have to say… Just look at this clawn Boris and look at Lavrov. Notice a difference in level?

    • Icarus Tanović

      Hahahaha! Good one!

  • Langaniso Mhlobo

    Lavrov as usual waisted his time and national resources to talk to this gay Boris which look like a bloody pig.UK is isolated island this Boris is looking for a man to marry.