Russian-British relations still shaky - ambassador

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Despite the recent positive tendency in Russian-U.K. relations, bilateral ties remain far too fragile, the Russian ambassador to Britain said on Tuesday.
LONDON, December 16 (RIA Novosti) - Despite the recent positive tendency in Russian-U.K. relations, bilateral ties remain far too fragile, the Russian ambassador to Britain said Tuesday.

"The continuation of the problems that were artificially provoked by the British side in 2007 creates a negative backdrop," Yury Fedotov told a news briefing.

"However successfully political dialogue may develop, the slightest breakdown is enough for our relations to collapse into crisis again," he said.

Relations between Britain and Russia were strained by the diplomatic fallout following the murder of Russian security service defector Alexander Litvinenko in London in November 2006 and Moscow's refusal to extradite Andrei Lugovoi, the U.K.'s main suspect in the case. The two countries engaged in tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats after Russia, citing its constitution, refused to extradite Lugovoi.

Following this, a dispute over the closure of British Council offices in Russia led Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to comment that, "I understand that a historic memory, connected with nostalgia for colonial times, is dominating over the lawful side of the question - but this is not the language one should use to talk to Russia."

British criticism of Moscow over the war with Georgia in August has also seen relations further deteriorate.

Fedotov also said Moscow and London would be unable to fully restore good relations while Britain continued to provide a home to people "fleeing Russian justice."

Russia and Britain have been at loggerheads over London's refusal to extradite fugitive ex-oligarch Boris Berezovsky and Chechen emissary Akhmed Zakayev. The latter has been accused by Moscow of terrorist activities.

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