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Russia–United Kingdom relations


Russia–United Kingdom relations

Russia–UK relations relations
Map indicating locations of  UK  and  Russia

United Kingdom


Russia–United Kingdom relations (Russian: Российско-британские отношения) is the relationship between the Russian Federation and Britain Spanning nearly five centuries, it has often switched from a state of alliance to rivalry or even war.[1] The Russians and British were allies against Napoleon, and enemies in the Crimean War of the 1850s, and rivals in the Great Game for control of central Asia in the late 19th century. They were allies again in the world wars. However they were at sword's point during the Cold War (1947-1991). Russians big business had strong connections with the City of London and British corporations after 2000. However, in 2014 relations turned hostile. The British government took the lead, with France and Germany, in imposing punitive sanctions by the EU against Russia for what Prime Minister David Cameron denounced as Russia's seizure of Crimea and support for insurgents in Ukraine, especially in the wake of shooting down a civilian airliner with a Russian missile. Russia warned against reopening the Cold War and responded with cuts in trade with the EU.[2]


  • Country comparison 1
  • Relations between England and Tsarist Russia 2
  • United Kingdom—Russian Empire relations 3
  • United Kingdom—Soviet Union relations 4
    • Second World War 4.1
    • Cold War 4.2
  • 21st century 5
    • Since 2010 5.1
  • Russian espionage and influence operations 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • Further reading 9
    • Multilateral diplomacy 9.1
    • Bilateral relations 9.2
    • Primary sources 9.3
  • External links 10

Country comparison

Russia United Kingdom
Population 143,400,000 63,134,171
Area 17,075,400  km2 (6,592,849 sq mi) 243,910  km2 (93,788 sq mi )
Population Density 8/km2 (21/sq mi) 262/km2 (679/sq mi)
Time zones 9 1
Exclusive economic zone 8,095,881 km2 6,805,586 km2
Capital Moscow London
Largest City Moscow – 11,503,501 London – 8,174,100 (13,709,000 Metro)
Government Federal semi-presidential constitutional republic Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy
Official language Russian (de facto and de jure) English (de facto)
Main religions 41% Russian Orthodox, 13% Non-Religious, 6.5% Islam,
4.1% Unaffiliated Christian, 1.5% Other Orthodox, 3.4% Other religions (2012 Census)
59.5% Christianity, 25.7% Non-Religious, 7.2% Unstated, 4.4% Islam,
1.3% Hinduism, 0.7% Sikhism, 0.4% Judaism, 0.4% Buddhism (2011 Census)
Ethnic groups 80.90% Russians, 3.96% other Indo-Europeans, 8.75% Turkic peoples, 3.78% Caucasians, 1.76% Finno-Ugric peoples and others 85.67% White British, 5.27% White (other),1.8% Indian, 1.6% Pakistani, 1.2% White Irish, 1.2% Mixed Race, 1.0% Black Caribbean, 0.8% Black African, 0.5% Bangladeshi, 0.4% Other Asian, 0.4% Chinese, 0.6% Other
GDP (PPP) by the WB $3.373 trillion $2.333 trillion
GDP (nominal) by the WB $2.015 trillion $2.435 trillion
Military expenditures $90.7 billion $62.7 billion
Nuclear warheads active/total 1,800 / 8,500 160 / 225

Relations between England and Tsarist Russia

Russian embassy in London, 1662
Old English Court in Moscow - headquarters of the Muscovy Company and residence of English ambassadors in the 17th century

The Kingdom of England and Tsardom of Russia established relations in 1553 when English navigator Richard Chancellor arrived in Arkhangelsk – at which time Mary I ruled England and Ivan the Terrible ruled Russia. He returned to England and was sent back to Russia in 1555, the same year the Muscovy Company was established. The Muscovy Company held a monopoly over trade between England and Russia until 1698.

In 1697–1698 during the Grand Embassy of Peter I the Russian tsar visited England for three months. He improved relations and learned the best new technology especially regarding ships and navigation.[3]

United Kingdom—Russian Empire relations

Russia depicted as a bear and Britain as a lion eying off an Afghan in the Great Game.

The Kingdom of Great Britain (1707—1800) and later the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (1800–1922) had increasingly important ties with the Russian Empire (1721—1917), after Tsar Peter I brought Russia into European affairs and declared himself an emperor. From the 1720s Peter invited British engineers to Saint Petersburg, leading to the establishment of a small but commercially influential Anglo-Russian expatriate merchant community from 1730 to 1921. During the series of general European wars of the 18th century, the two empires found themselves as sometime allies and sometime enemies. The two states fought on the same side during War of the Austrian Succession (1740—1748), but on opposite sides during Seven Years' War (1756—1763), although did not at any time engage in the field.

The outbreak of the French Revolution and its attendant wars temporarily united constitutionalist Britain and autocratic Russia in an ideological alliance against French republicanism. Britain and Russia attempted to halt the French but the failure of their joint invasion of the Netherlands in 1799 precipitated a change in attitudes.

Britain occupied Malta, while the Emperor Paul I of Russia was Grand Master of the Knights Hospitaller. That led to the never-executed Indian March of Paul, which was a secret project of a planned allied Russo-French expedition against the British possessions in India.

The two countries fought each other (albeit only with some very limited naval combat) during the Anglo-Russian War (1807-1812), after which Britain and Russia became allies against Napoleon in the Napoleonic Wars.

The Eastern Question and the fate of the Ottoman Empire became of interest to both countries, and they both intervened in the Greek War of Independence (1821—1829), eventually forcing the London peace treaty on the belligerents.

The issues surrounding the Ottomans were not resolved, however, and lead to the Crimean War (1853—1856) fought by Britain, France, and the Ottomans against Russia.

Rivalry between Britain and Russia developed over Central Asia in the Great Game of the late 19th century, as Russia desired warm-water ports on the Indian Ocean while Britain wanted to prevent Russian troops from gaining a potential invasion route to India. The Pandjeh Incident caused a war scare in 1885. There was cooperation in Asia, however, as the two countries intervened in China during the Boxer Rebellion (1899—1901).

In October 1905 a Russian fleet mistakenly engaged a number of British fishing vessels in the north sea resulting in Britain briefly beginning preparation for war.[4] This included a flotilla of Holland class and A class submarines leaving harbour to engage the fleet before they were recalled.[4]

Anglo-Russian Entente and the Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907 made both countries part of the Triple Entente. Both countries were then part of the subsequent alliance against the Central Powers in the First World War.

United Kingdom—Soviet Union relations

Soviet Union–UK relations relations

United Kingdom

Soviet Union

After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Britain sent troops to Russian ports in the Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War, which was designed to limit Soviet aid to the German war effort.

Following the withdrawal of British troops from Russia, negotiations for trade began, and on March 16, 1921, the Anglo-Soviet Trade Agreement was concluded between the two countries.[5] The United Kingdom recognised the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR or Soviet Union, 1922—1991) on February 1, 1924. Relations between then and the Second World War were tense, typified by the Zinoviev letter incident. Diplomatic relations between the two countries were severed in May 1927 after an Mi5 raid on the All Russian Co-operative Society, but restored in 1929.[6]

Second World War

1941 Soviet-UK agreement against Germany

In 1938, Britain and France negotiated the Munich Agreement with Nazi Germany. The USSR opposed to the pact and refused to recognise the German of the Czechoslovak Sudetenland.

The Soviets felt excluded from Western consideration and vulnerable to possible hostilities by the West or Germany, and in response the USSR signed the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, which promised the Soviets control of about half of Eastern Europe, with Nazi Germany getting the other half. The pact protected Germany and facilitated its invasion of Poland and the Second World War a few days later. Britain declared war on Germany. This complicated relations with Britain as the British leadership was sympathetic to Finland in her war against the USSR (the Winter War), yet could not afford to alienate the Soviets while an attack from Germany was imminent. The USSR however supplied fuel oil to the Germans which was used for Hitler's Luftwaffe in the Blitz against the United Kingdom. Because of the Soviet non-aggression pact with Germany, Hitler's troops were able to overrun most of Western Europe in the summer of 1940.

Georgy Zhukov at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, 12 July 1945

In 1941, Germany launched Operation Barbarossa, attacking the USSR. The USSR thereafter became one of the Allies of World War II along with Britain, fighting against the Axis Powers. The Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran secured the oil fields in Iran from falling into Axis hands. The Arctic convoys transported supplies between Britain and the USSR during the war.

Britain signed a treaty with the USSR and sent military supplies. Stalin was adamant about British support for new boundaries for Poland, and Britain went along. They agreed that after victory Poland's boundaries would be moved westward, so that the USSR took over lands in the east while Poland gained lands in the west that had been under German control.

Lighter blue line: Curzon Line "B" as proposed in 1919. Darker blue line: "Curzon" Line "A" as proposed by the Soviet Union in 1940. Pink areas: Former pre WWII provinces of Germany transferred to Poland after the war. Grey area: Pre WWII Polish territory east to the Curzon Line annexed by the Soviet Union after the war.
They agreed on the "Curzon Line" as the boundary between Poland and the Soviet Union) and the Oder-Neisse line would become the new boundary between Germany and Poland. The proposed changes angered the Polish government in exile in London, which did not want to lose control over its minorities. Churchill was convinced that the only way to alleviate tensions between the two populations was the transfer of people, to match the national borders. As he told Parliament on 15 December 1944, "Expulsion is the method which...will be the most satisfactory and lasting. There will be no mixture of populations to cause endless trouble... A clean sweep will be made."[7]

In October, 1944, Churchill and Foreign Minister Anthony Eden met in Moscow with Stalin and his foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov. They discussed who would control what in the rest of postwar Eastern Europe. The Americans were not present, were not given shares, and were not fully informed. After lengthy bargaining the two sides settled on a long-term plan for the division of the region, The plan was to give 90% of the influence in Greece to Britain and 90% in Romania to Russia. Russia gained an 80%/20% division in Bulgaria and Hungary. There was a 50/50 division in Yugoslavia, and no Russian share in Italy.[8][9]

Cold War

Following the end of the Second World War, relations between the Soviet and the Western bloc deteriorated quickly. Former British Prime Minister Churchill claimed that the Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe after WWII amounted to 'an iron curtain [that] has descended across the continent.' Relations were generally tense during the ensuing Cold War, typified by spying and other covert activities. The British and American Venona Project was established in 1942 for cryptanalysis of messages sent by Soviet intelligence. Soviet spies were later discovered in Britain, such as Kim Philby and the Cambridge Five spy ring, which was operating in England until 1963.

The Soviet spy agency, the Oleg Gordievsky, defected to London in 1985.

British prime minister Margaret Thatcher pursued a strong anti-communist policy in concert with Ronald Reagan during the 1980s, in contrast with the détente policy of the 1970s, although relations became warmer after Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in 1985.

21st century

President Putin and Queen Elizabeth II on a state visit, 2003
Gordon Brown (left) and Dmitry Medvedev (right), meeting at the G8 summit, 2008.

After the collapse of the USSR, relations between Britain and the Russian Federation were initially warm. In the 21st century, however, while trade and human ties have proliferated, diplomatic ties have suffered due to allegations of spying, and extradition disputes; thus escalating political tensions between London and Moscow.

The Foundations of Geopolitics, a Russian textbook published in 1997, has been one of the most influential books among Russian military, police, and statist foreign policy elites.[10] The book argues that Russia must isolate the United Kingdom from the politics of continental Europe.[10]

In 2003, Russia requested the extradition of "tycoon" Boris Berezovsky and Chechen separatist Akhmed Zakayev, but Britain refused, having given them both political asylum.[11]

In early 2006, Russia accused UK diplomats of

  • BBC news, timeline of recent Anglo-Russian relations
  • The Economist, Anglo-Russian relations, The big freeze
  • Bilateral agreements between Russia and the United Kingdom

External links

  • Watt, D.C. (ed.) British Documents on Foreign Affairs, Part II, Series A: The Soviet Union, 1917-1939 vol. XV (University Publications of America, 1986).
  • Wiener, Joel H. ed. Great Britain: Foreign Policy and the Span of Empire, 1689-1971: A Documentary History (4 vol 1972) vol 1 online; vol 2 online; vol 3; vol 4 4 vol. 3400 pages

Primary sources

  • Anderson, M. S. Britain's Discovery of Russia 1553-1815 (1958). online
  • Bartlett, C. J. British Foreign Policy in the Twentieth Century (1989)
  • Bell, P. M. H. John Bull and the Bear: British Public Opinion, Foreign Policy and the Soviet Union 1941-5 (1990).
  • Carlton, David. Churchill and the Soviet Union (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000).
  • Chamberlain, Muriel E. Pax Britannica?: British Foreign Policy 1789-1914 (1989)
  • Clarke, Bob. Four Minute Warning: Britain's Cold War (2005)
  • Cross, A. G. ed. The Russian Theme in English Literature from the Sixteenth Century to 1980: An Introductory Survey and a Bibliography (1985).
  • Deighton Anne. "The 'Frozen Front': The Labour Government, the Division of Germany and the Origins of the Cold War, 1945-1947," International Affairs 65, 1987: 449-465. in JSTOR
  • Deighton, Anne. The impossible peace: Britain, the division of Germany and the origins of the Cold War (1990)
  • Fuller, William C. Strategy and Power in Russia 1600-1914 (1998)
  • Gleason, John Howes. The Genesis of Russophobia in Great Britain: A Study of the Interaction of Policy and Opinion (1950) online
  • Gorodetsky, Gabriel, ed. Soviet foreign policy, 1917-1991: a retrospective (2014)
  • Haslam, Jonathan. Russia's Cold War: From the October Revolution to the Fall of the Wall (Yale UP, 2011)
  • Ingram, Edward. "Great Britain and Russia," pp 269-305 in William R. Thompson, ed. Great power rivalries (1999) online
  • Jelavich, Barbara. St. Petersburg and Moscow: Tsarist and Soviet foreign policy, 1814-1974 (1974)
  • Jones, J. R. Britain and the World, 1649-1815 (1980)
  • Keeble, Curtis. Britain and the Soviet Union, 1917-1989 (London: Macmillan, 1990).
  • Kort, Michael. The Soviet Colossus: History and Aftermath (7th ed. 2010) 502pp
  • Miner, Steven Merritt. Between Churchill and Stalin: The Soviet Union, Great Britain, and the Origins of the Grand Alliance (1988) online
  • Morgan, Gerald, and Geoffrey Wheeler. Anglo-Russian Rivalry in Central Asia, 1810-1895 (1981)
  • Neilson, Keith. Britain and the Last Tsar: British Policy and Russia, 1894-1917 (1995) online
  • Neilson, Keith Britain, Soviet Russia and the Collapse of the Versailles Order, 1919–1939 (2006)
  • Reynolds, David, et al. Allies at War: The Soviet, American, and British Experience, 1939-1945 (1994).
  • Riasanovsky, Nicholas V. and Mark D. Steinberg. A History of Russia. (7th ed. Oxford University Press, 2004) 800 pages.
  • Service, Robert. A History of Twentieth-Century Russia. (2nd ed. Harvard UP, 1999)
  • Service, Robert. Stalin: A Biography (2004)
  • Seton-Watson, Hugh. The Russian Empire 1801-1917 (1967) excerpt and text search
  • Shaw, Louise Grace. The British Political Elite and the Soviet Union, 1937-1939 (2003) online
  • Zubok, Vladislav and Pleshakov, Constantine. Inside the Kremlin's Cold War: From Stalin to Khrushchev (1996).
  • Густерин П. В. Советско-британские отношения между мировыми войнами. — Саарбрюккен: LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing. — 2014. — ISBN 978-3-659-55735-4 .

Bilateral relations

  • Albrecht-Carrié, René. A Diplomatic History of Europe Since the Congress of Vienna (1958), 736pp, basic introduction 1815-1955
  • Feis, Herbert. Churchill Roosevelt Stalin The War They Waged and the Peace They Sought A Diplomatic History of World War II (1957)
  • Figes, Orlando. The Crimean War: A History (2011) excerpt and text search
  • McNeill, William Hardy. America, Britain, & Russia: their co-operation and conflict, 1941-1946 (1953)
  • Macmillan, Margaret. The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914 (2013) cover 1890s to 1914; see esp. ch 2, 5, 6, 7
  • Mckay, Derek and H.M. Scott. The Rise of the Great Powers 1648 - 1815 (1983)
  • Rich, Norman. Great Power Diplomacy: 1814-1914 (1991), comprehensive survey
  • Schroeder, Paul W. The transformation of European politics, 1763-1848 (1994) highly detailed analysis
  • Taylor, A.J.P. Struggle for Mastery in Europe 1848-1918 (1954) highly detailed analysis

Multilateral diplomacy

Further reading

  1. ^ Edward Ingram, "Great Britain and Russia" in William Thompson, ed., Great Power Rivalries (1999) pp 269-305.
  2. ^ Nicholas Winning, "Cameron Says EU Should Consider New Sanctions Against Russia: U.K. Prime Minister Wants 'Hard-Hitting' Measures After Downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17," Wall Street Journal July 21, 2014
  3. ^ Jacob Abbott (1869). History of Peter the Great, Emperor of Russia. Harper. pp. 141–51. 
  4. ^ a b Compton-Hall, Richard (1983). Submarine boats The beginnings of underwater warfare. London: Conway maritime press. pp. 1153–154.  
  5. ^ Text in League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. 4, pp. 128–136.
  6. ^ For an account of the break in 1927, see Roger Schinness, "The Conservative Party and Anglo-Soviet Relations, 1925–27", European History Quarterly 7, 4 (1977): 393–407.
  7. ^ Winston S. Churchill: his complete speeches, 1897-1963 (1974) vol 7 p 7069
  8. ^ Albert Resis, "The Churchill-Stalin Secret "Percentages" Agreement on the Balkans, Moscow, October 1944," American Historical Review (1978) 83#2 pp. 368-387 in JSTOR
  9. ^ Klaus Larres, A companion to Europe since 1945 (2009) p. 9
  10. ^ a b John B. Dunlop (August 2003). "Aleksandr Dugin’s Foundations of Geopolitics". Princeton University. 
  11. ^ BBC NEWS | World | Europe | Mood for a fight in UK-Russia row
  12. ^ Topping, Alexandra; Elder, Miriam (2012-01-19). "Britain admits 'fake rock' plot to spy on Russians". The Guardian (London). 
  13. ^ BBC NEWS | World | Europe | UK diplomats in Moscow spying row
  14. ^ BBC NEWS | Politics | Russia expels four embassy staff
  15. ^ "Will Lugovoi still stand trial?". BBC News. 2008-05-19. Retrieved 2008-06-21. 
  16. ^ Anglo-Russian relations [1] April 7, 2008
  17. ^ BBC Media Player
  18. ^ BBC NEWS | World | Europe | Russia's Bear bomber returns
  19. ^ Sky News report with Quote
  20. ^ BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Russian art show gets green light
  21. ^ BBC NEWS | World | Europe | Russia to limit British Council
  22. ^ BBC NEWS | Politics | Russia actions 'stain reputation'
  23. ^ "British Council wins Russia fight". 2008-10-17. Retrieved 2010-05-02. 
  24. ^ Russian spies leaving the door open for terrorists in Britain. The Telegraph 2008-07-05
  25. ^ "Miliband in Georgia support vow". BBC News. 2008-08-19. Retrieved 2008-08-24. 
  26. ^ Kendall, Bridget (2009-11-03). Respectful disagreement' in Moscow"'". Retrieved 2010-05-02. 
  27. ^ "The Battle for Britain's Orthodox Church". The Independent. 2009-02-11. Retrieved 2013-02-07. 
  28. ^ "Who controls Russian Orthodoxy in Britain?". openDemocracy. 2009-03-18. Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  29. ^ "BBC Russian Service: farewell to old friends". openDemocracy. 2011-01-31. Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  30. ^ Norton-Taylor, Richard (2010-06-29). "Russian spies in UK 'at cold war levels', says MI5". London: The Guardian. 
  31. ^ Nicholas Winning, "Cameron Says EU Should Consider New Sanctions Against Russia: U.K. Prime Minister Wants 'Hard-Hitting' Measures After Downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17," Wall Street Journal July 21, 2014
  32. ^ "UK suspends Military and Defense Ties with Russia over Crimea Annexure". IANS. Retrieved 19 March 2014. 
  33. ^ "Ukraine crisis: Russia and sanctions" BBC News 13 Sept. 2014
  34. ^ Adrian Croft and Kylie MacLellan, "NATO shakes up Russia strategy over Ukraine crisis," Reuters, Sept. 4.2014
  35. ^ Paul Ingrassia, "Putin says no new Cold War, no way back to the USSR," Reuters, May 24, 2014
  36. ^ "Russia feels sorry about failed strategic partner, EU," Sept 12,
  37. ^ a b Russia Today launches first UK ad blitz. The Guardian. 18 December 2009.
  38. ^ Against the Cold War. The History and Political Traditions of Pro-Sovietism in the British Labour Party, 1945–89 (2004). Darren G. Lilleker. p.91
  39. ^ Stewart, Will (2013-03-01). "Kremlin anger as Britain grants political asylum to Russian banker wanted on criminal charges in Moscow". Daily Mail (London). 


See also

  • The British newspaper Guardian noted that Russia uses a shadowy army of Russian nationalists to influence opinions on western newspaper websites, including the Guardian's site. Anyone who dares to criticise Russia's leaders, or point out some of the country's deficiencies, is "immediately branded a CIA spy or worse".[37]
  • Budget figures showed that Russia was going spend $1.4 billion on international propaganda in 2010, more than on things such as fighting unemployment. Russia purchased a major Russia Today advertising campaign in the United Kingdom.[37]
  • The [38]
  • Andrei Borodin a Russian banking tycoon who owns Britain’s most expensive house has been given asylum in England – prompting fury in Moscow.[39]

Russian espionage and influence operations

The course of certain forces in the European Union to further aggravate the already strained relations with the Russian Federation becomes obvious....Now, when there is a fragile peace process going in Ukraine, and the sides began exchanging prisoners, when, as it appeared, all forces should be redirected from presenting mutual accusations and sanctions to finding solutions to the Ukrainian domestic conflict, such steps appear particularly inappropriate and short-sighted.[36]

On 12 September 2014, in response to the latest round of EU sanctions, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs was highly critical:

I would not like to think this is the start of a new Cold War. It is in no one's interest and I think it will not happen.[35]

In May 2014, Putin told journalists:

Russia has ripped up the rulebook with its illegal, self-declared annexation of Crimea and its troops on Ukrainian soil threatening and undermining a sovereign nation state.[34]

In March 2014, Britain suspended all military cooperation with Russia and halted all extant licences for direct military export to Russia.[32] In September, 2014, there were more rounds of sanctions imposed by the EU, targeted at Russian banking and oil industries, and at high officials. Russia responded by cutting off food imports from the UK and other countries imposing sanctions.[33] Cameron said:

In 2014 relations turned sharply hostile regarding the Ukraine. The British government took the lead, with the US, in imposing punitive sanctions against Russia for what Prime Minister Cameron denounced as Russia's seizure of Crimea and support for insurgents in Ukraine, especially in the wake of shooting down a civilian airliner with a Russian missile.[31]

According to David Clark, chair of the independent Russia Foundation, Britain's relations with Russia had undergone a "mini-reset" under the Conservative government of David Cameron, involving tacit agreement to draw a line under the Litvinenko affair, greater emphasis on business and commercial ties, and co-operation on matters of shared interest.

Since 2010

In 2010 MI5 warned that Russian spy operations in the United Kingdom are at Cold War levels.[30]

Earlier in 2009, then Solicitor-General, Vera Baird, personally decided that the property of the Russian Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, which had been the subject of a legal dispute following the decision of the administering Bishop and half its clergy and lay adherents to move to the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, would have to remain with the Moscow Patriarchate. She was forced to reassure concerned Members of Parliament that her decision had been made only on legal grounds, and that diplomatic and foreign policy questions had played no part. Baird's determination of the case was however endorsed by the Attorney-General Baroness Patricia Scotland. It attracted much criticism.[27][28] However, questions continue to be raised that Baird's decision was designed not to offend the Putin government in Russia.[29]

In November 2009, Miliband visited Russia and he described the state of the current relationship as "respectful disagreement".[26]

[25] During the

In 2008, MI5 warned that Russia is a country which is under suspicion of committing murder on British streets.[24]

In January 2008, Russia ordered two offices of the British Council situated in Russia to shut down, accusing them of tax violations. Britain has refuted this claim and the council initially tried to keep their offices open. Work has been suspended at the offices, the council citing "intimidation" by the Russian authorities as the reason. The "Chief Executive" of the council said 20 of their Russian staff had been interviewed by the Russian security service (FSB) and a further 10 were visited at their homes by tax police in the night of January 15. On the same night, the son of former British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock, who holds the post of "office director" at the Saint Petersburg branch, was detained for an hour by Russian authorities, allegedly for driving the wrong way up a one-way street and smelling of alcohol.[21][22] However, later in the year a Moscow court threw out most of the tax claims made against the British Council, ruling them invalid.[23]

In late 2007, Russia feared that some of its artwork, due to be shown at an exhibition in London, could be seized because of disputes about their ownership. It refused to send the art to the UK until a law was passed by the British government to protect it, initiating fears that the art would not be shown at the exhibition at all. A law was eventually passed and the art was shown.[20]

In November 2007, a report by the head of security service MI5 Jonathan Evans, it was stated that "since the end of the Cold War we have seen no decrease in the numbers of undeclared Russian intelligence officers in the UK – at the Russian Embassy and associated organisations – conducting covert activity in this country."[19]

In a reminder of the Cold War, Russia recommenced its long range air patrols of the Tupolev Tu-95 bomber aircraft in August 2007. These patrols have neared British airspace, requiring RAF fighter jets to "scramble" and intercept them.[17][18]

In July 2007, The Crown Prosecution Service announced that Boris Berezovsky would not face charges in the UK for talking to The Guardian about plotting a "revolution" in his homeland. Kremlin officials called it a "disturbing moment" in Anglo-Russian relations. Berezovsky was a wanted man in Russia right up to his death on March 23, 2013, having been accused of embezzlement and money laundering.[16]

In late 2006, former KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned in London by radioactive metalloid, Polonium-210 and died 3 weeks later. Britain requested the extradition of Andrei Lugovoi from Russia to face charges over Litvinenko's death, Russia refused, stating their constitution does not allow extradition of their citizens to foreign countries. Britain then expelled four Russian diplomats, shortly followed by Russia expelling four British diplomats,[14] the dispute then continued to escalate over the following months. As of 19 May 2008 the head of Counter-Terrorism at the British Crown Prosecution Service, Sue Hemming, said: "The extradition request is still current.[15]


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