Keep Russia's Putin in check, UK tells US

Keep Russia's Putin in check, UK tells US
In UK Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt's first major policy speech, he urged the US and Europe to do more to keep Russia in check.
3 min read
22 August, 2018
"Russia’s foreign policy under President Putin has made the world a more dangerous place" [Getty]
UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt urged on Tuesday that the US and European countries do more to call out Russia's "malign behaviour" and to keep Russian President Vladimir Putin in check, primarily by implementing tough sanctions.

"The established rules of international conduct are repeatedly being flouted by major countries like Russia," Jeremy Hunt was to say in Washington, in his first major policy speech since succeeding Boris Johnson in July.

"Such aggressive and malign behavior undermines the international order that keeps us safe," Hunt was to say, according to excerpts of the speech.

"Of course we must engage with Moscow, but we must also be blunt: Russia's foreign policy under President Putin has made the world a more dangerous place."

London has blamed the March poisoning in the UK of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia - using a Soviet-made nerve agent - on Moscow, plunging the two countries into a diplomatic crisis.

A number of Western countries have punished Moscow by expelling Russian diplomats in a coordinated manner. Some have gone further, with other punitive measures.

Those come on top on sanctions already in place over Russia's annexation of Crimea or Moscow's interference in foreign elections, notably in the 2016 presidential vote in the US.

Hunt, who is to meet with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday, will ask London’s allies to do more.

"Today, the United Kingdom asks its allies to go further by calling on the European Union to ensure its sanctions against Russia are comprehensive, and that we truly stand shoulder to shoulder with the US," Hunt will say, according to the excerpts.

"That means calling out and responding to transgressions with one voice whenever and wherever they occur, from the streets of Salisbury to the fate of Crimea."

US President Donald Trump and his administration has been firm with Moscow, regularly announcing new sanctions over the Skripal case, but that message is sometimes muddied by his willingness to improve ties with Putin.

At his July summit with the Russian leader in Helsinki, Trump appeared to be rather conciliatory toward his counterpart, shortly after raising hackles at a NATO summit in Brussels with his contrarian stance.

That earned the president widespread criticism at home, even angering many in his own Republican Party.
For Hunt, NATO's "credibility" has taken a hit.

"Those who do not share our values need to know that there will always be a serious price to pay if red lines are crossed - whether territorial incursions, the use of banned weapons or, increasingly, cyberattacks," he was to warn.

Hunt will also seek to carry a tough message to Europe on the subject of Brexit, warning that a no deal departure could threaten the continent’s unity for a generation, according to his office.

"One of the biggest threats to European unity would be a chaotic no-deal Brexit," he was to say.

Hunt, who replaced Johnson last month amid discord over how London should handle Brexit, was to say the UK would manage - "we have faced many greater challenges in our history" - but the European Union would suffer a serious blow.

"The risk of a messy divorce... would be a fissure in relations between European allies that would take a generation to heal - a geostrategic error for Europe at an extremely vulnerable time in our history," he was to say.