Has anyone noticed that Russia has spent several days pondering its response to the British government decision to deport four of it’s embassy staff?
I’m beginning to suspect that, for once, Russia is playing the game of international opinion with some aplomb.
Someone in the Kremlin must have noticed that international support for Britain’s action has been somewhat muted. There seems to be a fairly widespread (although admittedly not universal) perception that Britain has acted hastily and disproportionately by launching into the ‘diplomatic expulsions game’ without a real strategy in mind, and I think that the Russian government may have realised that, by playing it cool, they can seem to be the country that is acting maturely, responsibly, and can hang on to the moral high ground.
If I were the Russian government, after a few days I’d strongly condemn the British actions, then go on to tell the world that tit for tat expulsions of diplomats is a petty game that Russia just won’t play. Stress the fact that, regardless of the possible merits of the British case against Andrei Lugovoi, the Russian government has acted entirely properly under its constitution. And then move on to some other news story.
Sadly, the Russian government isn’t known for its ability to grasp the bigger picture. Nor is it known for taking my advice…