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Russian ambassador to UK says sees no signs of thaw in London-Moscow relations

According to the Russian diplomat, the British side is looking at improving relations with Russia but Moscow would never compromise Crimea or its presence in Syria for that

LONDON, February 7. /TASS/. Russia’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom Andrei Kelin said on Friday he sees no signs of any thaw in relations between the two countries.

"I cannot say I see any thaw. I have been here for just a couple of months and temperature changed little over this period. There were not much of anti-Russian pronouncements during the elections but now the anti-Russian wave is reaching its former level," he told journalists.

According to the Russian diplomat, the British side is looking at improving relations with Russia but Moscow would never compromise Crimea or its presence in Syria for that.

"We have been receiving signals through various channels that it is time to turn over this page, and the United Kingdom is thinking about that," he said. "It would be good but, I would like to note that senior [British] officials advance a number of conditions for that: Russia should change its behavior, return Crimea [to Ukraine], stop its activities in Syria and vow nothing like what happened to the Skripals would ever take place again. If the price is our returning Crimea, withdrawing from Syria and so on, better relations with the United Kingdom, probably, are not worth that and Russia is not going to change its behavior."

Answering a TASS question, the Russian ambassador said he did not think that London would impose further economic sanctions against Moscow once, in formal terms, it had no need to align itself with the European Union on that matter after the Brexit.

"Everything the European Union is doing will be adopted by the United Kingdom as a continuation of the policy, since one of the key topics Brussels is seeking to impose is the continuation of the joint policy in the sphere of defense and security. The sanction regime is part and parcel of it," Kelin said. "Only one thing has been declared by now, that is the United Kingdom is imposing its edition of the Magnitsky act in the United States’ and Canada’s interpretation. It mean that it is not geared against Russia only, it is geared against serious violations of human rights worldwide. As for other things, the United Kingdom is silent so far."

"I don’t think any economic sanctions would be imposed because this is what would impede liberalization of the economy and trade, the Brexit concept is resting onMuch would depend on the new climate, if any," he added.

Touching on a possibility of trade talks between London and Moscow after Brexit, Kelin stressed that the sides were in no hurry to begin this process due to objective reasons.

"So far, we have not begun the process of discussing what is to be done. The United Kingdom in now busy with top priority tasks, namely settling relations with the European Union and the United States. The European Union accounts for 50% of Britain’s trade, the United States accounts for 20% of it, so, new editions of trade agreements are needed. It should be done within the interim period, otherwise London is running the risk of withdrawing from the EU without a deal, which would be a great problem both for the European Union and the United Kingdom," the ambassador said. "That is why we are in no hurry now. We too will have to introduce certain amendments to our laws, those that mention European Union nations.".