Theresa May: UK open to ‘different’ Russia relationship

Theresa May at the Remembrance Sunday service marking the armistice centenary.

Theresa May at the Remembrance Sunday service marking the armistice centenary. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

The Guardian


The prime minister will use Lord Mayor’s banquet speech to outline desire for increased cooperation with Moscow

Theresa May will say the United Kingdom is open to a “different” kind of relationship with Russia following a year of deteriorating relations between the two countries.

The Novichok poisonings of double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, by Russian intelligence agents in Salisbury and a series of cyber-attacks allegedly directed by the Kremlin have strained ties between the UK and Russia in the last 12 months.

But the British prime minister will use a traditional address at the Lord Mayor’s banquet in the City of London on Monday to say the UK is “ready to respond in kind” if there were signs of increased cooperation from Russia in the interests of international stability.

May will use the speech to reflect on the Salisbury nerve agent attack and the thwarted hacking of the international chemical weapons watchdog’s headquarters in The Hague by Dutch authorities, also praising the coordinated response from the west.

“Together with our allies, in response to the attack in Salisbury, we coordinated the largest ever collective expulsion of Russian intelligence officers, fundamentally degrading Russian intelligence capability for years to come. And our law enforcement agencies, through painstaking investigations and cooperation with our allies, produced the irrefutable evidence that enabled our Crown Prosecution Service to bring charges against those responsible.

“In these actions, we have seen the impact of international unity and a collective response to these threats. We have shown that while the challenge is real, so is the collective resolve of like-minded partners to defend our values, our democracies and our people,” she will tell the audience.

Despite the criticism, the prime minister will say “this is not the relationship with Russia that we want”.

May will also announce the name of one of the UK’s eight planned Type 26 frigates as HMS London in the speech.

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