Britain should take advice from US President-elect Donald Trump by “listening to the Russians instead of lecturing them” to avoid a new Cold War, says former UK Ambassador to Moscow Sir Tony Brenton.
“Trump is right too that our present approach has failed (sanctions have boosted Russian determination), and if we are to avoid slipping into a dangerous new Cold War, we need to listen to the Russians instead of lecturing them,” Brenton wrote in the Telegraph.
The West’s “demonization” of Russian President Vladimir Putin is also out of hand, Brenton added.
“With military expenditure one-tenth of that of the West, Russia is not the threat our ‘experts’ wallow in.”
Brenton says Britain’s “security and prosperity” will lie in Trump’s hands, and Downing Street must look for common ground to push the relationship forward.
“Trump has said some deeply worrying things, from weakening the NATO defense guarantee to encouraging the Japanese and South Koreans to develop nuclear weapons,” he said.
“We are probably the best placed country to help guide this in a sensible direction.”
Brenton added that Trump is underestimating the importance of NATO unity in getting Russia to the conference table.
“There are better ways to press our feckless European partners into spending what they ought to on defence than threatening to withdraw the US guarantee, and we should be working with the US to find them.”
As US security policy is not yet finally formed, Brenton says it is time to “back Trump’s objectives, while moderating his intended methods.”
“ISIL cannot be disposed of by bombing - it requires painstaking political and intelligence work which draws in moderate Muslims rather than alienating them.
You're presuming the USA actually wants to get rid of ISIS. That has not been obvious from their tactics over the past 5 years. ISIS has support from some of America's closest friends, ie arms purchasers.
“The Iran agreement may not be perfect but it is better than the only real alternative, military action.
“The same applies for Syria. Tragic though the fate of the Syrian people is, the alternative of a proxy war with Russia and opening the door to Islamic rule is much worse.
“One suspects that Trump, with his aversion to US over-extension, can be persuaded of all of this.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn says NATO’s current policies of adding more troops in eastern Europe is only increasing tensions, and has proposed a demilitarized buffer zone on the alliance’s border with Russia.
“There has to be a process that we try and demilitarize the border between what are now the NATO states and Russia so we drive apart those forces, keep them further apart,” Corbyn told Andrew Marr on the BBC. “We can’t descend into a new Cold War.”
It's not often I agree with Jeremy Corbyn, in fact, I doubt that it has ever happened before, but I agree with him here. Surely, the western world has matured to the degree that we can find a way to stop sabre-rattling and start working together.
Corbyn previously said that NATO “should have been wound up” after the fall of the Iron Curtain, and refused to commit the UK to the principle of collective defense if he were to become Prime Minister.
The Labour MP expressed skepticism that under the current international system any rapprochement with Moscow was possible.“Donald Trump clearly thinks he can have a strong relationship with Putin on the basis that he is a strong leader. But, it’s not about strong leaders, it’s about movements towards coexistence and peace,” explained Corbyn.
As a solution, the 67-year-old proposed the OSCE and the Council of Europe as potential “forums” for building new ties with the Kremlin.
During the 15-minute sit-down interview, Corbyn repeatedly reiterated that his anti-NATO stance did not equal unequivocal support for Russia, saying he has “many criticisms of Putin, of human rights abuses, and the militarization of society.”
NATO is currently placing a new 4,000-strong fast-response force in eastern Europe, with most soldiers scheduled to be stationed in the Baltic States, which have spoken out most insistently about a supposed threat from Moscow.
Last week, newspapers reported that NATO is trying to cut down the time for deploying a force of 300,000 to eastern Europe from 180 days to two months, citing Russia’s increased defense spending, and conflicts in eastern Ukraine and Georgia in 2008.
The US is also continuing with its plans to roll out a missile defense shield over Europe with bases in Poland and Romania, despite long-standing objections from Moscow.