I read in ‘The Times’ today (22nd August) that the new British Foreign Secretary has once again appealed to UK allies to take some form of measures against Russia for its assault on UK sovereignty when Sergei Skripal and his daughter were allegedly poisoned by Russian agents. We may remember when the event happened the UK retaliated by expelling 23 Russian diplomats, while a number of allies such as the United States took similar action. There have been sanctions and expulsions and counter expulsions. Even Donald Trump has got in on the media propaganda war against Vladimir Putin’s Russia. It all seemed the right thing to do, and, by and large, people felt indignant. However, we never got a proper explanation as to why Sergei Skripal was targeted in the first place, except that he was a double agent. As it was difficult for us to know or comment on information we’re not privy to, we accepted the UK’s government stand as reasonable.
But, while this indignation against Russia was widely felt, I read in The Times newspaper yesterday that the groundwork was being laid by a group called ‘The City UK’, which has government backing, to work with Russian financiers, including the Russian Central Bank. Part of the article read, “The City UK’s project to work with Russia’s central bank and the state-backed Moscow International Financial Centre also involves the UK government, because the British embassy is involved and public funds administered by the Foreign Office are set to be used to send UK business people on trips to Moscow”.
‘The City UK’ is a group that promotes the financial service industry in the UK, and has links with the UK government as well as policy makers in Brussels and Washington. So it is little wonder that one may very well feel a little confused about UK government policy relating to Russia. Is there is some form of contradiction here: openly imposing sanctions on Russia while, at the same time, collaborating with their official financial system which includes the Russian central bank? Is this all part of the UK government’s strategy to open new financial markets in case the financial services are excluded from the EU after Brexit? I am sure there is a reasonable explanation and it isn’t a modern example of perfidious albion.