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Thursday, July 19, 2007

A Letter to the Telegraph

Sir -

You suggest that the West's relationship with Russia can only deteriorate (Leading article, July 17), but Britain's expulsion of Russian diplomats marks the first time that Vladimir Putin's bluster has been met with a robust response. As such, it may in fact mark a turning point.

Whatever Russia's response in the short term, the Kremlin is progressively isolating itself on the international stage. This is evident in Russia's approach to the nuclear brinkmanship of North Korea and Iran, its use of hydrocarbon resources as a diplomatic weapon and its arrogant behaviour towards the former Soviet republics on its periphery.

On all these issues the EU and the other G8 countries are of one mind, as evidenced by the solidarity shown by Chancellor Merkel during the German EU presidency, with Poland, Estonia and Lithuania recently subjected to Russian bullying.

In the long term, Russia has far more to lose than Britain from this spat, and a knee-jerk reaction against British investments in Russia would ultimately be self-defeating. Reportedly, Boris Berezovsky is being sought for extradition by Brazil. It is important we prove President Putin wrong, that we allow due process and no one in Britain, no matter how rich, is above the law, and will be extradited, provided the charges are well founded and they face a fair trial in the country requesting extradition.

Charles Tannock MEP, Conservative foreign affairs spokesman, Brussels

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