New British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Jeremy Hunt yesterday was to urge the US and European nations to do more to call out Russia’s “malign behavior” and keep Russian President Vladimir Putin in check, notably by implementing tough sanctions.
“The established rules of international conduct are repeatedly being flouted by major countries like Russia,” Hunt was to say in Washington, in his first major policy speech since succeeding Boris Johnson last month.
“Such aggressive and malign behavior undermines the international order that keeps us safe,” Hunt was to tell an audience at the US Institute of Peace, a nonpartisan think tank, according to excerpts provided by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
“Of course we must engage with Moscow, but we must also be blunt: Russia’s foreign policy under President Putin has made the world a more dangerous place,” Hunt was to say.
London has blamed the March poisoning in southwestern England of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia — using a Soviet-made nerve agent — on Moscow, plunging the two nations into a diplomatic crisis.
A number of Western countries have punished Moscow by expelling Russian diplomats in a coordinated manner.
Some have gone further, with other punitive measures.
Those come on top on sanctions already in place over Russia’s annexation of Crimea or Moscow’s interference in foreign elections, notably in the 2016 presidential vote in the US.
Hunt, who is to meet today US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, was to ask London’s allies to do more.
“Today, the United Kingdom asks its allies to go further by calling on the European Union to ensure its sanctions against Russia are comprehensive, and that we truly stand shoulder to shoulder with the US,” Hunt was to say, according to the excerpts.
“That means calling out and responding to transgressions with one voice whenever and wherever they occur, from the streets of Salisbury to the fate of Crimea,” he was to say.
The administration of US President Donald Trump has been firm with Moscow, regularly announcing new sanctions over the Skripal case, but that message is sometimes muddied by the US leader’s willingness to improve ties with Putin.
At his summit last month with Putin in Helsinki, Trump appeared to be rather conciliatory toward his counterpart, shortly after raising hackles at a NATO summit in Brussels with his contrarian stance.
That earned Trump widespread criticism at home, even angering many in his own Republican Party.
For Hunt, NATO’s “credibility” has taken a hit.
“Those who do not share our values need to know that there will always be a serious price to pay if red lines are crossed — whether territorial incursions, the use of banned weapons or, increasingly, cyberattacks,” he was to warn.
Hunt was also seek to carry a tough message to Europe on the subject of Brexit, warning that a no deal departure could threaten the continent’s unity for a generation, according to his office.
“One of the biggest threats to European unity would be a chaotic no-deal Brexit,” he was to say.
Hunt, who replaced Johnson last month amid discord over how London should handle Brexit, was to say Britain would manage — “we have faced many greater challenges in our history” — but the EU would suffer a serious blow.
“The risk of a messy divorce ... would be a fissure in relations between European allies that would take a generation to heal — a geostrategic error for Europe at an extremely vulnerable time in our history,” he was to say.
A deal on Britain’s divorce from the bloc — which both sides want to strike by late October, with an eye toward a formal separation on March 29 next year — is still up in the air, with Brussels sticking to its red lines.
Henry Tong (湯偉雄) and Elaine To (杜依蘭) were preparing to spend their first wedding anniversary in separate prison cells until their acquittal for rioting during Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests. There were gasps and tears of relief in court on Friday last week as a judge declared prosecutors had failed to prove that the couple took part in clashes with police in July last year. The pair walked free in a ruling that has potential consequences for hundreds of other protesters facing similar charges. However, they have a long journey ahead as they try to rebuild their lives and business. “We have already been punished,”
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