Interview with Anthony Brenton

Britain does not aim at deterioration in relations with Russia but wants it to engage in a legal argument over the British Council issue, says British Ambassador to Russia Anthony Brenton.

Russia Today: Do you think there's room for compromise?

Anthony Brenton: I think the right basis for compromise has to be on the basis of the law – which is very clear- on the basis of the agreements between Russia and Great Britain – which is also very clear – and on the basis on civilised behaviour towards ordinary people.

RT: Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said it is Great Britain that does not abide by Russian law. How could you comment on that?

A.B.: Mr Lavrov said a number of things. The first thing he said about this dispute is that it was entirely political and stems from a disagreement about Mr Lugovoy. They have indeed offered an interpretation of the law. But they have chosen not to engage in a legal argument but to intimidate our staff.

RT: What do you think the final situation will be: the deterioration of relations between Russia and Britain, the break of diplomatic relations?

A.B.: That is certainly not our intention, we very much hope to avoid it. There are huge interests and common subjects, which we need to continue talking about, which we need to continue working on. This is a particular problem of the British Council which we need to find a way forward on, which we in the United Kingdom are very concerned, should not affect all the good things in our relationship. 

RT: Do you think if the issue of Lugovoy is settled, the British Council issue will be settled as well?

A.B.: If Mr Lugovoy faced a fair trial – which is what we want him to do – it would help immensely in improving relations.