Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Russia 'always denies bad news', says former British ambassador

Britain's former ambassador to Russia has said the country "always denies bad news" as he backed the US decision to expel 35 Russian diplomats.

Sir Andrew Wood said the West had moved to confront a Russia "which respects no rules, does not keep to its agreements and is determined to force is views on others - by force if need be".

Barack Obama decided to expel the diplomats amid allegations of Russian interference in the US presidential elections, which Moscow denies.

Asked on Sky News if he thought Russia's denials were credible, Sir Andrew said: "No, Russia always denies bad news."

He went on to say that Russia "has a strong record... of this sort of behaviour", and that the US had recently tried to build bridges with Moscow.

Sir Andrew added: "What you will see is a pattern of increasing disappointment with what Russia did.

"Seizing Ukraine, or seizing Crimea in Ukraine, and invading part of the rest of eastern Ukraine.

"Their actions in Syria have been in support of a regime which even in this world is notable for its use of torture and its indiscriminate bombing and killing of its own civilians.

"Their denial of any unwelcome fact is absolutely routine. They had no doping, they had nothing to do with bringing down the MH370, and so on and so forth."

Sir Andrew, who was British ambassador to Russia from 1995 to 2000, said this was not a repetition of the Cold War.

He added: "It is an effort, on the part of the United States and the West as a whole, to deal with a Russia which respects no rules, does not keep to its agreements and is determined to force its views on others - by force if need be."

President-elect Donald Trump could try to build bridges with Russia, Sir Andrew said, but this would be difficult.

He added: "Russia is in no mood or probably has no ability right now to return anything, so if he's a deal maker he's going to be very disappointed."

Russian President Vladimir Putin ruled out expelling any US diplomats in retaliation to the US move, which appeared to draw praise from Mr Trump, who tweeted: "Great move on delay (by V. Putin) - I always knew he was very smart!"

Former CIA director James Woolsey, now an adviser to Mr Trump, told BBC Radio 4's PM programme that President Obama had been "the investigator, the prosecutor, the judge and the jury" into allegations of Russian cyber crime.

He added: "It looks like they did something with cyber, but beyond that it's really not very clear.

"It does not look like they either tried, or if they did try they did not succeed, in making any changes to actual ballot counts."

Professor Thomas Rid, a cyber security analyst at King's College London, said a recent FBI report detailing the allegations had not convinced those working in the sector.

He told Channel 4 News: "The perception among the security community is that this is a report that was done in haste, not historically well informed, not technically as honest as it could be, and it included quite a lot of chaff, if you like, quite a lot of make-up and shoulder padding."


From Belfast Telegraph