More than a year after Skripal poisoning, obstacles remain to key diplomatic step
The UK and Russia are examining the scope for a thaw in relations, including the possibility of a meeting between the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, and Theresa May at the G20 leaders’ summit in Japan at the end of this month.
If a meeting were to go ahead it would be the first encounter at this level since the poisoning in Salisbury of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in March last year – an episode that led to 23 Russian diplomats being expelled by the UK followed by the expulsion of a similar number of British diplomats from Russia.
The loss of the quality of the expelled British diplomats has severely damaged Britain’s capacity to analyse Russia from inside the country. Moscow also closed the British Council offices and the UK’s diplomatic outpost in St Petersburg.
No meeting between the two leaders would go ahead unless both sides felt certain it would be productive, and a common agenda is achievable. There is also a question of whether Putin would prefer to try to turn a new page with the UK with a new prime minister.
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