During the last few months, Covid-19 has led to several political issues being put on the backburner and quite rightly so. However there are significant and worrying international issues brewing, none more so than the recent Russia report which has just been published.
The general consensus at the moment is that Russia has posed a significant threat for a number of years, but has been hugely underestimated by the British government.
It has been suggested that the Russians first started meddling with British affairs during the Scottish independence referendum of 2014, but yet the government showed little interest and has not taken any significant action as we know it. Why wouldn’t the government take action against the Russians?
This is a vital question. I would suggest there are a couple of potential reasons. Firstly, there may be a slight fear factor involved as a significant amount of Vladamir Putin’s close links are deeply involved in the United Kingdom’s business and social scene, due to their wealth. The Russia report accused past and present governments of welcoming Russian oligarchs “with open arms” due to the vast amount of investment they bring with them.
The report also provides insight into the potential connection between the House of Lords and the Russians stating “It is notable that a number of members of the House of Lords have business interests linked to Russia, or work directly for major Russian companies linked to the Russian state,” it read. This is illuminating and really does pose the question as to whether there could be quite a deep problem here.
A report of such significance is hugely important to the British people, as every citizen’s security can now be questioned. The implications of this report will be fascinating. The most interesting aspect may be whether the government carries out a full-scale investigation to see if the 2016 Brexit referendum was rigged by the Russians in any shape or form.
Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party will be very hesitant to do so, due to the fact that if the results were to come back and show the Russians had any influence, then the eligibility of the result will be questioned and Brexit may have to be halted.
This is the last thing the government desires at this stage when they are trying to push through a deal with the European Union by the end of the year, which is already proving exceedingly difficult and unlikely.
In recent weeks, there has also been the suggestion that Russian hackers are trying to steal Covid-19 vaccine research. The UK security minister James Brokenshire has said Britain is “more than 95%” sure that Russian state-sponsored hackers targeted UK, US and Canadian organisations involved in developing a coronavirus vaccine.
95% certainly leaves a little bit of uncertainty, but if Russian hackers have been trying to infiltrate the Uk’s vaccine research, it could be the nail in the coffin for any form of relationship between the two nations.
Russia’s behaviour in the recent past towards the United Kingdom has not been particularly impressive to say the least, and I fear the relationship between these two leading world powers is potentially being fractured beyond repair. The Salisbury poisonings in the summer of 2018 and the very recent reports of Russian hackers attempting to steal vaccine research is nothing short of disgraceful.
During these challenging times, when people are losing loved ones to this ghastly virus, it should be a time for collaboration and teamwork.
Typically, Russia has thrown this idea out the window and was quite rightly called out on its actions by the foreign secretary Dominic Raab.
From a political point of view, it will be very interesting to see how these issues pan out and if the government chooses to take the advice of many including the Intelligence and Security Committee, who believe that the government are ‘playing catch up’ and should conduct a formal investigation into Russia’s antics over the last 6 years. These are very testing times, with a lot of international issues brewing and the continuous battle of trying to defeat Covid-19. Watch this space.