Foreign Policy Blogs

Cameron Crawls Back to Putin

As if any more evidence were needed that Putin will return to the presidency, Britain’s David Cameron has raced to Moscow to mend fences.

Of course, this being Cameron, his limp supplicating came with an extra dose of hypocritical moralising.

The UK has not been talking to Moscow because of Russia’s refusal to extradite suspected FSB hitman Lugovoi over the high profile murder of former spook Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006.

Britain might have (mis)calculated on Medvedev being a for-real reformer rather than a decoy-placeholder, but now that Putin seems to not be going away anytime soon, it’s decided to crawl back into his better books.

Trying to deflect attention from his capitulation, Cameron must have at least got some laughs from the Moscow State audience when he said:

“Our approach is simple and principled – when a crime is committed, that is a matter for the courts. It is their job to examine the evidence impartially and to determine innocence or guilt…It is the job of governments to help courts to do their work and that will continue to be our approach,” he added.

Funny because while Russia is merely refusing to extradite Lugovoi, a Russian-born citizen, Britain continues to be a haven for several much higher profile Russians wanted back home, who were given UK passports in exchange for allowing them to take pot shots at the Putin government. Litvinenko himself was one. Notorious oligarch Boris Berezovsky is another. But all those years when Russia complained about Britain harbouring the likes of Chechen rebel leader Zakayev, Berezovsky and his hired thug Litvinenko – all originally Russian citizens, mind you, who were given UK passports expressly to prevent them from being tried in their home country – in other words, when it was acting just like the UK is acting now, it was condemned as a paranoid and vindictive power. Lugovoi may have killed Litvinenko, but Zakayev and Berezovsky have been openly agitating for the overthrow of the Russian government, all the time protected by Her Majesty. Also, while Britain may be all high and mighty about sending its (conveniently newly minted) citizens to face trial abroad in Russia, it’s perfectly happy to extradite its own people to the US at the drop of a hat.

Pathetic and grovelling as it was, at least Cameron’s overture might put an end to Britain embarrassing itself any further.

 

Author

Vadim Nikitin
Vadim Nikitin

Vadim Nikitin was born in Murmansk, Russia and grew up there and in Britain. He graduated from Harvard University with a thesis on American democracy promotion in Russia. Vadim's articles about Russia have appeared in The Nation, Dissent Magazine, and The Moscow Times. He is currently researching a comparative study of post-Soviet and post-Apartheid nostalgia.
Areas of Focus:
USSR; US-Russia Relations; Culture and Society; Media; Civil Society; Politics; Espionage; Oligarchs

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