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    Theresa May

    UK PM’s Russia Speech ‘Tactic to Place Relations Under Constant Strain’ - Journo

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    British Prime Minister Theresa May will once again criticize Russian policy during the Lord Mayor’s banquet speech, adding, however, that London still wants to have better relations with Moscow. She is also supposed to note that the collective response measures were a sign of Western countries’ will to protect their values and democracies.

    The leaked report comes as relations between London and Moscow have deteriorated following the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal. Sputnik discussed this with Patrick Henningsen, an independent journalist based in the UK.

    Sputnik: In your view, why is Theresa May preparing to criticize Russia now?

    Patrick Henningsen: Well, the first thing is that nothing is leaked by accident, so someone leaked the details of the speech in the upcoming Mansion House speech. So who knows why that was done, either by government or possibly by someone in opposition within the party. One would think that the speech maybe would be changed so as not to allow the press to head off the PM, as it were, but I think this is just following a general pattern of marginalizing Russia; this is a long-term policy, so I don't expect anything to change in that respect.

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    The details are also saying of extending an olive branch to Russia, they would like better relations with Russia, but at the same time really just doubling down on everything that has taken place already over the last two years or so with regards to the chilling relations between the UK and Russia.

    Sputnik: Any idea what Mrs May will be talking about?

    Patrick Henningsen: I think generally the issue is to keep sanctions and embargoes in place. That is the number one priority, I think, by the UK, by the United States, by European actors that are on board with this agenda, that's the most important thing. And I think reinforcing the Skripal narrative justifying the expulsion of alleged Russian spies, who are also diplomats. So this is really just designed to continue to disable diplomacy.

    Recently, in the UK press, there is this idea, this assumption that all Russians in the UK are spies. I think some UK papers quoted it, up to 75,000 Russian spies, which is a little bit comical, considering at the height of Cold War, the maximum number of Soviet spies at any one time in the UK might have numbered something between 40 and a 100. But what it is, it is just, it's another feature in an overwhelming tactic to place Russia-Western relations under constant strain, constant tension.

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    Ultimately to, you know, the big picture is really to continue to disrupt, hamstring Western-Russian relations and ultimately to damage Russian economic development across its frontier, mainly we are talking about Eurasia and the Middle East. This is a general long-term policy, basically, and I think the United States and Britain are leading in that effort.

    Sputnik: Media reports say that the prime minister is also expected to point out how that London is open to better relations with Moscow. In your view, how serious is Britain's desire to increase cooperation with Moscow?

    Patrick Henningsen: Maybe that was a little caveat that was inserted there to appear fair and balanced, but if you look at the policies and the actions of the British government, I mean the accusing diplomats of being spies without any evidence, no due process, no judicial review, drawing up lists profiling people based on their nationality, which could easily be done based on a race too, by the same process.

    So the accusations of espionage are totally arbitrary, basically. There is this is talk of collective action, this is something the prime minister keeps repeating: "we are very happy about the collective action that our allies have taken also to respond in the same way by expelling Russian spies or diplomats, and this is protecting the values and democracy."

    Well, in reality, it's really undermining due process. So there is a little bit of a contradiction in that statement and she talks about the collective response to the Russian threat.

    Then she is really talking about the rapid reaction mechanism, which was announced at the G7 in June. What that is, is it's led by the UK and NATO member states, effectively, and the United States getting on the same page with regards to the public relations response to anything Russian-related. So this is really about coordinating public relations or you could say coordinating propaganda because that's the euphemism for public relations; to counter Russian influence or some sort of a Russian threat.

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    You will see this throughout the newspapers, the media, and the broadcast media. You'll see all these countries have agreed that this is their joint statement. That's what the rapid reaction mechanism is.

    Sputnik: How likely are we to see a thaw in relations between the two countries?

    Patrick Henningsen: A lot of people would like to see that, but I don't think that's on the cards in the short-term. The main objective of the United States and the UK, and its partners, is to keep the sanctions in place, to keep an embargo in place, and to keep rolling out and pushing the global Magnitsky policy which is a so-called anti-corruption initiative named after the Magnitsky Act in America.

    So, I think that's the big picture and I think that's what the US and the UK want to protect — that and also to dislocate and to disconnect Russia from the West economically, diplomatically, legally and I think that's exactly what we are seeing taking place. In the long-term, it doesn't look very good.

    Sputnik: What is the West's endgame here?

    Patrick Henningsen: I think the West's endgame is to disrupt, hamstring, marginalize Western-Russian relations and ultimately to keep Russia from developing as an economic and a political force internationally and also to maintain some level of tension between Europe and Russia.

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    And so this benefits the United States and its wider geopolitical ambitions, maintain disposition as a unipolar hegemon globally.

    The views expressed in this article are solely those of Patrick Henningsen and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

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