Rostislav Ishchenko: Why Britain Always Defiles Russia

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


Boris Johnson – the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the still United Kingdom – stated that Great Britain “can’t have normal relations with Russia, in view of its actions in Ukraine and Syria”. I will remind that half a year ago Johnson, precisely because of the situation in Syria – where Moscow offended radical Islamist militants, cancelled his visit to Russia. Statements of this sort call into question the expediency of Johnson’s visit, which was previously planned for the spring of 2018. Moscow has people to talk to in Europe, especially taking into account the fact that the most part of the members of the European Union – which London is leaving – takes a more constructive position concerning Russia.

But what caused Johnson to make such a statement? It would seem that in conditions of a sharp and dramatic change in favor of Russia in the alignment of forces on the world scene, and also the problems that arise in Britain – which conducts a heated debate with its for-now European partners about forms, terms, mechanisms and, most importantly, the cost to exit the EU, Britain must be more accurate and not create new lines of tension where it can be avoided. Especially as London in general isn’t involved in the settlement of the situation in Ukraine, and in Syria, while it has its interests, it plays a supporting role behind Washington.

OSCE employee inspects the yard of a house, damaged in the shelling of Dokuchaevsk in the Donetsk region

A retrospective view of the history of Russian-British relations testifies that since the time of Gytha of Wessex, the spouse of which is Vladimir Monomakh, whose father Harold Godwinson was killed in battle with William the Bastard (William the Conqueror) at Hastings, relations between Rus/Russia and England/Britain were either non-existent or tense. Even in the rare times of military alliances (against Bonaparte and Hitler), the sides didn’t trust each other, had opposite interests, and only common danger temporarily kept them in the same camp.

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So what forces Britain already for 1,000 years everywhere possible to counteract Russia, to seek a decrease in the authority and opportunities of Moscow on the world scene, and to transfer it to the status of a second-rate State? After all, Britain is so far from us.

Everything, as usual, is in financial and economic interests. Britain, since time immemorial, has been known as a nation of trade. As they live on islands, they conduct trade by sea. During several centuries they challenged the sea domination (in the beginning local, and then global) of the Hanseatic cities, Danes, Dutches, Spaniards, and the French. Eventually Britain becomes the empress of the seas.

But lets remember that the main and most profitable trade at all times was conducted between Western Europe and Southeast Asia. Caravans and ships shuttled along this route at the time of Roman and Byzantine emperors, Egyptian Mamelukes, Turkish sultans, and Mongolian Khan-Chingizid.

The Middle East was always a key point in the intersection of the sea and overland routes. Since the end of the 15th-beginning of the 16th century first the Portuguese and Spaniards, and then the British established a sea route around Africa in order to bypass dependence on Turkey, which controlled the Middle East.

But 25 years prior to the first European traveler who reached India using this route, it is the Russian merchant Afanasy Nikitin who arrived from continental Russia to India, Iran, Arabia, and to the Horn of Africa, having established an overland route from Western Europe to Asia, and having bypassed Turkish lands.

Monument to the merchant Afanasy Nikitin

For a long time the maritime routes controlled by the British remained out of competition. For too many, too different, too unstable countries – populated by people who were too wild – it was necessary to cross on the overland way to India and further to Southeast Asia.

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But by the beginning of the 18th century Russia came to the Far East, having established direct border and trade relations with China, and in the middle of the 19th century, having attached Central Asia, it appeared on the northern border of India. For the first time since the 13th century, when lands from Hungary and Germany, and from Japan to Siam [modern day Thailand – ed] were under the domination of the still-united Mongolian state, free overland transit became possible from Europe to Asia and in reverse.

And it is precisely at this moment that the world wars began. What is characteristic is that the day before both the First and Second World War Britain had extremely tense – on the verge of a military conflict – relations with Russia. But it always fought in war in the same coalition, solving its geopolitical problems at the expense of Russia and using Russian hands.

If we look impartially at the results of the two world wars, we will find out that they preserved two important things: domination of London in Europe, and the domination of the British fleet at sea. After World War II they were obliged to share this domination with the younger (but stronger) Anglo-Saxon brothers from the US, which didn’t prevent London from remaining the financial center of the world.

Thus, Britain always solved its tasks, which objectively followed from its fight for control over trade and financial streams: the removal of Russia from Europe (without which British control over the Old continent was impossible) and ensuring the main transit of goods by sea, where it was carried out by the British trade ships under the protection of the ships of the Royal Navy (from the second half of the 20th century — fleet of the US). In these conditions Russia – irrespective of its attitude towards Britain and realistic plans – was for London the main competitor and the main problem that should be solved at any cost.

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The US completely inherited and shared with Britain also its financial and economic interests, and also its politics. They still try to control world trade in the same way, focusing its main streams on maritime routes that the American fleet dominates. And Russia for them is also the main stumbling block that should be removed at any cost.

Merchant ship in London, 1939

It is precisely the commonality of financial and economic interests (and not the commonality of origin, which is absent in reality) that makes the American and British elite almost a uniform organism. They already have essential divergences from continental Europe (that’s why Bonaparte and Hitler, who united the continent away from British control, were for Anglo-Americans enemies worse than the Russians).

That’s why Russia will always be for Britain and the US the enemy, irrespective of “its actions in Ukraine and Syria”. A pretext will always be found. For example, at the end of the 19th century the British blamed Russia for its actions in Central Asia, and in the middle of the 20th century the Americans were indignant with the actions of Russia in Europe.

It’s no coincidence that I write “Russia” in all cases. Irrespective of how the State was called, it is precisely Russia that was its backbone, and precisely Russia that provided the overland trade bridge between Europe and Asia. This was well understood in London and Washington when they called the Soviet Union “Russia”. It is precisely Russia, and not the suburbs of the former State [USSR – ed], which fell away, that also today holds London and Washington back. And taking in account that overland transit became even quicker and more profitable than shipping, an alive Russia inevitably kills the sea trade of the US and Britain, and together with it — also the inexhaustible source of income, which for centuries provided these states wellbeing, stability, and a defining influence on world affairs.

It’s business. Nothing personal.

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