The House of Lords has been asked by one of its own to boost ties with Russia. Viscount Waverley said he had grown concerned by “ill-informed” rhetoric and “misinformation and polarization” aimed at Moscow.
On Monday, Waverley told the House of Lords that “at a time of escalating rhetoric…relations with Russia must command our attention.”
In recent months, British politicians have consistently laid into Russia. Despite accusations being repeatedly debunked, MPs are insisting that Facebook and Twitter keep looking for the influence of Russian bots on social media during the 2016 Brexit referendum.
More recently, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has sewn discord. On Friday, he claimed that Russia was actually spying on the UK’s infrastructure, both on home soil and through sensitive intercontinental sea cables. He also purported Russia could launch a cyberattack at any time, and would kill “thousands and thousands and thousands” of Britons.
On the topic of defense, Waverley pointed out that while relations with Russia may have been tense in recent decades, it would serve Britain well not to forget its old ally from World War Two.
Hopefully following Relations with #Russia debate in @UKHouseofLords will now start all-important trade, scientific research, climate change, health, culture, sports, civil society cooperation & education exchange engagement with #Russian people
— Lord Waverley (@LordWaverley) January 31, 2018
“[Russia’s war] losses were immense,” he said. “Without them, we would not be here today.
“I have in my library Memoirs of a Soviet Ambassador 1939-1943. One of Ivan Maisky’s observations was that his recollection of official meetings he attended in London differed from the official records of the day.
“Therein might lie a clue to the United Kingdom’s engagement with Russia: bridge that gap and build the trust vital to underpin a productive future relationship.”
Some praised Waverley’s words and others opposed them, citing the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine.
Lord Truscott said that the UK must work with Russia to find a way to sort out issues in the Ukraine.
“I believe that we need to work together to ensure that there is a resolution of the Ukrainian conflagration,” he said. “We should fully engage with Russia over issues such as Syria, Iran and North Korea, and in fighting international terrorism, drug and people trafficking.
“We need to move beyond the current mindless rhetoric and tit-for-tat diplomacy, which is dangerous and, if unchecked, can lead us all to disaster. If we are not careful, talk of war can itself become a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
Lord Kilclooney echoed Truscott’s sentiments, telling the House of Lords that the UK must find a way to work together towards a more stable Europe.
“I want to see an improved relationship between the United Kingdom and Russia,” he said.
“Of course we have differences, but it is in the interests of the people of the United Kingdom and of Russia that we work more closely together, as well as in the best interests of a greater and more stable Europe.”
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