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    UK Acknowledges That 'Russia is Not Its Enemy For the First Time in Years'

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    A report published by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the UK House of Commons has called on London to improve strained relations with Russia by engaging in dialogue with Moscow. This indicates that the United Kingdom no longer views Russia as an adversary, political analyst Alexander Gusev told Radio Sputnik.

    Gusev, who heads the Institute of Strategic Planning, maintained that this policy shift is linked to the fact that Great Britain has chosen to leave the European Union.

    "The United Kingdom has opted for a hard Brexit with all that it entails. It is important to them to preserve relations with the European Union since they don't want to leave the single market. On the other hand, as the report mentions, Russia has a special place in Europe. A dialogue with Russia is significant for Britain during these complex and turbulent times. For the first time in many years they have acknowledged that Russia is not Great Britain's enemy and that Great Britain is not Russia's enemy. The Brits understand that it is impossible to resolve any regional or global issues without Russia," he explained.

    The report, released on March 2, states that relations between the UK and Russia are "at its most strained point since the end of the Cold War" because both countries do not see eye to eye when it comes to recent history and the current international order. However, the Foreign Affairs Committee added that "refusal to engage" with the Russian government is "not a viable long-term foreign policy option" for Great Britain since Russia is a nuclear-armed European state that is also a member of the UN Security Council.

    The report singled out the Syrian conflict and the Ukrainian crisis as the two key challenges plaguing the relations between the two countries.

    "Great Britain has always kept its finger on the pulse when it comes to the Middle East. It has never removed issues related to the region and Syria from its agenda. The Brits are to a large extent responsible for formulating the agenda of the coalition led by the United States. When they mention resolving the crisis, they are referring to relations with Russia," Gusev said.

    The Foreign Affairs Committees report also suggested that sanctions imposed on Moscow following the foreign-sponsored coup in Ukraine should be kept intact until the ongoing civil war is resolved through the Minsk peace process or other mechanisms.

    "Sanctions are a deterrent in relation to our country. The United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union have made a joint decision. This is why sanctions will remain in place at least in 2017," Gusev said.

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    Tags:
    anti-Russian sanctions, Syrian crisis, Ukrainian crisis, bilateral relations, UK Foreign Affairs Select Committee, Great Britain, United Kingdom, Russia
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