UK House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee Report on UK-Russia Relations

The UK House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee published it’s Seventh Report (Session 2016-2017) on The United Kingdom’s Relations with Russia. It’s interesting reading, especially in the context of the looming Brexit and the possible consequences for the UK’s post-Brexit sanctions policy

As any parliamentary report, one has to read through the usual political waffle – given that the report signals the obvious. The issue of sanctions are covered in Chapter 3 and Chapter 4 (subparagraph 2). What is clear, is that the relations between the UK (West) and Russia will have to be improved. In regard to sanctions, the Committee warns for the need to establish clear guidelines for restrictive measures to be lifted (really?!).

What is interesting, is that the Committee advises the UK Government not to miss any opportunities which might bring about a resolution to the lifting of sanctions (e.g. initiatives from Russia that are mutually acceptable to the UK (West)).

Given the range of topics which underlie the tensions between the UK (West) and Russia, this might be extremely difficult (e.g. crisis in the Crimea/Sevastopol, Russian support of armed rebels in Eastern Ukraine,  and Russia’s controversial involvement in the ongoing conflict in Syria).

Furthermore, it’s questionable whether both countries will be able or willing to focus on improving their bi-lateral relations. For the next couple of years, the UK will probably only have time for the Brexit negotiations, given the deteriorating economic situation in Russia, the need for Russia to continue to bombast the West won’t disappear, and lastly, the unpredictability of President Trump towards Russia doesn’t help. 

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