Interview with Stanislav Lekarev

Stanislav Lekarev, a former Russian foreign intelligence officer, and now an observer of the weekly Argumenty Nedeli, joined RT to comment on Britain's move against Russia.

Russia Today: Is the British action an adequate response to Russia's refusal to extradite Andrey Lugovoy? Is Russia being punished for complying with its constitution?

Stanislav Lekarev: The British are maestros of playing such games as what we have now. It’s too early to say whether it was an adequate response or not. I think it will be a chain of actions from both sides. They started with four diplomats and look how Russia will respond. If Russia expels two British diplomats they will stop. If four – they will go on. Maybe it would be another portion, even ambassadors. So they play a serious game. The precedent is really serious, and I think the Americans have had a hand in it.

RT: What do you think will be Russia's response?

S.L.: Russia’s reaction will be adequate. I think from two to four British diplomats will be expelled. And it must be people who are involved in secret operations here in Russia. The British started with four and I think there are not more than four people involved in such secret operations in the UK. The Russian foreign intelligence has been seriously cut recently. In my time it was about 50 people, but now it is less, of course. I think the British staff of MI6 here is small as well. If we expel four of them, there will be two or three left and this will be a break of a common rule. So I think that Russian response will be moderate.   

RT: Obviously political relations between the two countries are deteriorating, but how will it affect other aspects of bilateral relations?

S.L.: This is another card in the game. The British have already mentioned something about education, commercial relations and co-operation in the fight against terrorism. I think it’s too early now to discuss it.

RT: The British Foreign Minister David Miliband also said Britain is suspending negotiations on a new bilateral visa regime.  Can you tell us more about that?

S.L.: The Visa war is the British favourite game. If they do it, it will be a good tool to collide different parts of Russian society. If done, the move will hit top Russian officials and intelligence but not some ordinary people, I think, unless the British decide to undermine President Purin’s electoral support here in Russia. I doubt this will happen. They will concentrate on special services, I believe.  

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