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Why Britain needs a new Russia policy


The UK government, once naively optimistic about Russia, has become more hard-nosed and should pursue a coherent Russia strategy with like-minded countries.

Press articles by British defence secretaries rarely cause much of a stir – unexciting pieces on defence reform are the norm. But Ben Wallace’s recent article on the situation in Ukraine is an exception.

Point by point it refutes Russian president Vladimir Putin’s claims about the threat that Ukraine and its international partners supposedly pose to Russia, ending with a warning about what a Russian attack on Ukraine would mean for the rest of Europe.

Wallace’s line reflects the UK’s 2021 Integrated Review of security, defence, development and foreign policy, which described Russia as ‘the most acute direct threat to [the UK’s] security’ in the 2020s.

The government’s analysis is good and shows how far UK views have evolved since the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review, which had little to say about Russia, and even less that was critical. Now the UK needs a strategy to go with the analysis.

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