Whatever Presidents Trump and Putin are up to, relations between Britain and Russia are poor. But that’s hardly a surprise: it’s been the historical norm for most of the past 200 years. The two nations confronted each other in ‘The Great Game’ over Afghanistan and neighbouring territories in Central and Southern Asia for most of the nineteenth century. Of the major powers, Britain put the most effort into the wars of intervention against the Bolsheviks following the Russian Revolution in 1917; and distrust and contention marked Anglo-Soviet relations for much of the 1920s and 30s. The Cold War preoccupied two generations from 1945 to 1990. But the climate was not always one of antagonism. Britain allied with Russia and others in the War of the Sixth Coalition (1813-14) which finally defeated Napoleon; both nations fought Germany (until March 1918) in World War 1; and Russia was a key Allied Power in World War 2. Why does it take a common enemy to bring us together?
Photo: Gibraltar Farm Barn, Tempsford, July 2017