The outlines of a new Russia policy have taken shape in the UK over recent years. The aim is to protect ourselves and our allies. The days when we thought we could influence developments inside Russia are long gone. The policy, to use the language of the Cold War, is one of containment rather than rollback.
Contrary to what the Kremlin or its propaganda mouthpieces might say, the policy is not based on Russophobia nor on the exaggerated threats of old Cold Warriors. Instead, it is based on a sound – and realistic – understanding of the last quarter of a century. It is a period over which Russia has successfully challenged the European security order; it has invaded two of its neighbours, twice gone to war with its own people, and engaged in repeated acts of military sabre-rattling, subversion and economic coercion.
The issue with the policy is that Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, appears not to have been briefed on it. Speaking earlier this week, he said: “Twenty years ago it seemed possible that there would be another relationship. I genuinely thought that we would be able to welcome Russia into the comity of democratic nations… I think we have to do a bit of soul-searching about why it didn’t happen, how we lost Russia… I think there were faults on both sides.”
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