LONDON (Reuters) – Prime Minister Theresa May will say on Monday Britain is “open to a different relationship” with Russia if Moscow takes a new path and stops “attacks” that undermine international treaties and security.
Just a year ago, May used her annual speech at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet to accuse Moscow of military aggression and of meddling in elections, some of her strongest criticism even before the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Salisbury.
This year, she will tell London’s financial centre that the action was taken since – including the largest ever coordinated expulsion of Russian intelligence officers – has deepened her belief in a “collective response” to such threats.
“We will continue to show our willingness to act, as a community of nations, to stand up for the rules around the world,” May will say, according to excerpts of her speech.
Describing evolving threats, May will say the past year, including Salisbury, has “shown that while the challenge is real, so is the collective resolve of like-minded partners to defend our values, our democracies, and our people.”
“But, as I also said a year ago, this is not the relationship with Russia that we want … We remain open to a different relationship – one where Russia desists from these attacks that undermine international treaties and international security,” she will say.
“And we hope that the Russian state chooses to take this path. If it does, we will respond in kind.”
May has said often that Britain’s decision to leave the European Union does not mean a retreat into isolationism, and her words again seem aimed at underlining London’s desire to play a weighty role in the world.
But with no mention of Brexit in the speech excerpts, she may be hoping to avoid going into too much detail of Britain’s negotiations to leave the EU, which have split her cabinet, her Conservative Party and Britain’s parliament.
(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg)