Putin & May agree to personal meeting, speak of mending ties

Russian President Vladimir Putin and British PM Theresa May have agreed to meet to discuss a wide range of topics, from the economy to terrorism. Speaking by phone Tuesday, the leaders hinted there is room for improvement in soured relations.

According to a Kremlin statement, Moscow and London are dissatisfied with the two countries’ stalled bilateral cooperation, in political and economic spheres, and are ready to revitalize work “in several dimensions.”

Enhancing aviation security by means of closer cooperation between respective secret services will be one of the key pillars of the mooted rapprochement.

As one of the steps indicating warming of the relations, the UK is going to send a delegation to the Russian northern port city of Archangelsk to take part in the commemoration ceremony dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the first British aid convoy to the USSR during WWII in late August.

The conversation, which took place at Britain’s initiative, paves the way for a personal meeting of the two leaders, which expected to take place in the “near future,” most likely on the sidelines of the upcoming G20 summit in Hangzhou, China in September. Although no concrete date has yet been set, it is known that Putin and May will both be attending the event.  

READ MORE: US defense industry wants you to believe Vladimir Putin is responsible for Brexit

May reiterated the importance of joint counter-terrorism efforts with Russia, “in aviation security, in particular.” 

She expressed her willingness to engage “in open and honest” communication with the Russian president despite the existing difference of opinions on “certain issues,”according to a Downing Street spokeswoman.

A new start in relations is equally important to both countries, political commentator John Wight told RT, while noting that Theresa May is assuming the reins of power at a time of “deep economic and political uncertainty in the UK in the light of the Brexit.”

Moscow and London have some “very serious issues” to deal with together, such as the ongoing struggle with Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in the Middle East, and Moscow “will be keen to fix some change in attitude” towards Russia, Wight said.

Last month, the newly-appointed British PM made several alarmist remarks about Russia, describing it as a “real” nuclear threat to the UK along with North Korea.

While advocating the renewal of the country’s nuclear deterrent program, May noted that Britain “cannot afford to relax our guard or rule out further shifts which would put our country in grave danger,” referring to the imminent danger allegedly posed by the two countries.

Moscow dismissed the statement as hostile, accusing May of employing the same anti-Russian rhetoric used by ex-PM David Cameron, contrary to the fact that Russia “very actively participates” in the nuclear non-proliferation and is a party to the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START) agreement along with the US.

Putin and May spoke for the first time since May’s accession to the prime ministerial office in July. The last time the Russian president met his UK counterpart was in November last year. Putin met then-PM Cameron on the sidelines of the G20 in Turkey.