Former UK ambassador calls for Britain & Russia to talk

Tanks take part at the Angarsky training center's obstacle course in Crimea's Simferopol District. © Alexandr Polegenko
A former UK ambassador to Moscow has called for a thaw in relations between Britain and Russia – and for “New Cold War” doom-sayers to be more sensible in their commentary.

Tony Brenton wrote in a column for the Telegraph that now is an opportune time to thaw relations between the two countries and that commentators should be more careful with language.

This dangerous nonsense has to stop. The picture we are building up in our minds of a revanchist Russia is as absurd as their picture of an aggressive and encircling West,” he said.

Russia sees the UK as a leading Western hawk. A thawing of our relations with them would be an important step.

British business is also uncomfortable with the UK’s current “outlier” role, he said.

Brenton urged security experts to consider what the last Cold War was actually like in practice before talking up a new one.

Those in our security commentariat talking (occasionally with relish) of a new Cold War need to remember more clearly what the old one was like: the bloated military expenditures, the vast arsenals that neither side had complete command of, and the occasional moment of real danger that they might be used,” he said.

Brenton’s intervention comes as a British defense source claims that Ukrainian Special Forces have briefed the British military deployed there on the tactics Kiev alleges are being used during fighting in the east of the country.

The Times says a group of highly experienced Ukrainian officers visited the UK in July to discuss tactical developments.

Topics included jamming and electronic warfare, conventional tactics and special forces.