Interview with Viktor Kremenyuk

Viktor Kremenyuk, Deputy Director of the U.S. and Canada Institute in Moscow, commented to Russia Today on the current Russian – Britain political confrontation and possible steps from both sides.

Russia Today: A lot of people were expecting Russia to up the ante after David Milliband's statement. Why hasn't it done so?

Viktor Kremenyuk: You know, it is the moment when Russia has a choice. Of course, no problem, it may respond in the same tough way as the British government has acted. And the result will be of course that the spiral of crisis will go up and we shall face a more and more deepening diplomatic crisis. But at the same time the Russian government may very easily demonstrate wisdom and poise and say: what is the problem? If you have some legal problems – address to our legal institutions and discuss it with them. Why should that core or that controversy over the legal issues be a part of our diplomatic relationship? We cherish the state of the relationship which we have with the UK and with the EU. We want to develop it, we are ready to develop it. And there should be no risk to this relationship from anyone and from any situation which may appear.

RT: All right but how do you think the world is viewing this disagreement between Russia and the UK? Is Russia likely to get any sympathy?

V.K.: It depends. Of course if Russia acts, I say, in the same tough way I think that the world would feel uneasy with both sides, saying that two sides are equal to each other. But if the Russian government acts more responsibly and tries to calm down the feelings and the excitement by saying we should not exaggerate this case and we should go ahead in building up a stable relationship which will satisfy both of us. I think that in this case the world would of course support Russia.

RT: Russia's political, if not economic, relationship with some Western countries has been rocky in the two or three years. But with new heads of state who have either recently or just come to power like Nicolas Sarkozy in France or Gordon Brown in the UK – will anything change in that?

V.K.: Oh yes, of course. I think that, you know, with the disappearance of the leaders who dominated world politics during the last five to seven years and the advent of the new group, of the new generation really much will change. I do not think that everything would be absolutely negative but the chances that, you know, we may come to some new sort of the relationship are very high. The problem is whether people will be ready for this because the case of the UK and the new government of the UK demonstrates that sometimes young people do not understand the price and the value of the relationship that we have now, after so many years of confrontation. This is something to be implanted into the heads of the world leaders. In that case, I think, the change of the generations would be very simply very useful and fruitful for the future relationship.