by Gabriel Gavin
Tuesday, 17
May 2022
Explainer
10:15

Why does Russia hate Britain so much?

There is a long history to the Kremlin's antipathy for the UK
by Gabriel Gavin
Goldeneye was Russia’s top-grossing film in 1996

In recent weeks, Vladimir Putin has made it clear that he believes his country isn’t fighting a war against Ukraine, but against the entire Western world. While America is Moscow’s public enemy number one, the UK has cemented its position in second place, blamed for everything from supposedly goading Ukraine into assaulting Snake Island in the Black Sea to staging the harrowing massacre committed by Russian troops in Bucha.

“This was the work of British specialists,” Kremlin propagandist Vladimir Solovyov insisted as pictures of bodies lining the streets of the Kyiv suburb surfaced last month. Then on Friday, Russia’s failed bid to overturn a World Rugby Council ban was blamed on the UK too. “The council is heavily influenced by the British nations, which are at the head of all the sanctions being levelled at our state,” Kirill Yashenkov, the deputy chair of Moscow’s Rugby Association, declared. And, in one of Russian state TV’s more vivid packages, a senior Putin ally warned that Britain could be “plunged into the sea” thanks to Russia’s nuclear capacity.

So how has the UK convinced Russia, as it has Iran, that it is the ‘Little Satan’ to America’s ‘Great Satan’?

For Moscow’s elite, Britain is often seen as a mirror image of their own country — a once-great empire intent on turning around its decline and restoring its superpower status. During the height of the Cold War, the rivalry between the two countries intensified when the Russia and the USSR became synonymous with spying. This was, in part, due to the defection of intelligence officers like Kim Philby to the Soviet Union in the 1960s, as part of the Cambridge Five scandal, and partly thanks to the wildly popular James Bond films. Goldeneye, the first instalment in the series made after the fall of the USSR, became Russia’s top-grossing film in 1996, and saw the suave MI6 operative teaming up with a Russian Bond Girl to save the world.

Couple that with the rows over the poisoning of former Soviet spies including Alexander Litvinenko and Sergei Scribal on British soil, and it’s easy to see why this reputation has been formed.

Fundamentally though, Putin’s clash with the West is being sold in Russia as a battle for the soul of Europe against American proxies. Pro-Russian politicians like Marine Le Pen in Paris and the AfD in Berlin are painted in propaganda as standing up for their countries’ interests — friendly relations and cheap gas from Moscow. Britain, meanwhile, has few such sympathisers, and its role in the Anglosphere places it, in the minds of the Kremlin at least, as a transatlantic power rather than a Eurasian one.

On top of that has been the strength of British intel — something that the Kremlin deeply resents. It was, after all, US and UK intelligence, contrary to French reports, that warned in early February that an invasion was imminent. In addition, Colonel Philip Ingram, a former British Military Intelligence officer, told me that it is the UK, along with the US, which is providing almost all of the operational information to those defending Ukraine. “The Russians have been wound up by the fact they are suffering on the ground, in the air and at sea partially because of the fidelity of the intelligence being sent over,” he says.

And so, for the time being, when it comes to an easy target for their propagandists like Solovyov to blame, Britannia rules the airwaves.

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Tom Watson
Tom Watson
6 months ago

Jolly nice of the Russians to give us pride of place in their demonology! Rather makes one feel important.

Любовь Мазова
Любовь Мазова
3 months ago
Reply to  Tom Watson

No worries hon, Britain is no demon, but a nerdy pain in the ass it certainly is.

Last edited 3 months ago by Любовь Мазова
John Lee
John Lee
6 months ago

Russia hates us.
France hates us.
Ireland also.
Plus most of the Caribbean Island states.
Add in the EU, most Irish Americans, India and Pakistan blame us for the modern tensions caused by the events of 70 years ago.
So many hate the British that we don’t care anymore.
(Don’t forget the Scots)
Why do we need a foreign aid budget when half of it’s recipients are less than grateful.

rodney foy
rodney foy
6 months ago
Reply to  John Lee

“Don’t forget the Scots”
Are you mixing up the English with the British?

Liam Brady
Liam Brady
6 months ago
Reply to  John Lee

Really ? All these countries hate us? I don’t think so. You need to travel more and speak to real people instead of listening to the polarised views expressed online.

Last edited 6 months ago by Liam Brady
M. M.
M. M.
6 months ago

British culture is a Western culture. As Westerners, the Britons are concerned about the welfare of 3rd parties. So, the Britons are saddened by the Ukrainian suffering caused by Russian soldiers.

Russian culture is an Asian culture. Most Russians are indifferent to the suffering of 3rd parties. They, including Vladimir Putin, had expected Westerners to harbor the same attitude. The Russians had expected Britons to ignore the atrocities committed by Russian soldiers on the Ukrainians.

Russian values is incompatible with British values. This incompatibility causes the Russians to hate Britons.

Get more info about this issue.

Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
6 months ago
Reply to  M. M.

I mean if westerners were concerned about 3rd parties it would apply to Yemen.

Sam Sky
Sam Sky
6 months ago

Ah yes, Yemen, always worth putting in your Putinbot bingo card along with secret Ukranian biological warfare labs.

Last edited 6 months ago by Ferrusian Gambit
Neven Curlin
Neven Curlin
6 months ago

Why does Russia hate Britain so much?

I believe that psychologists refer to this as ‘projection’.

Peter B
Peter B
6 months ago

Am I bothered ?
We seem to be winding up all the right people right now. Good.

Hugh Jarse
Hugh Jarse
6 months ago

Making enemies is inevitable. In life, in business and as here, in geopolitics. If you’re confident these are the right enemies then the more they protest against you, the more you know you’re on the right track.

R Wright
R Wright
6 months ago

The antipathy goes much further back. After the Russian Baltic Squadron killed Hull fishermen on the Dogger Bank in 1904 there was almost a war. There’s a memorial to the incident in Hull today.

https://britishseafishing.co.uk/the-dogger-bank-incident/

Iris C
Iris C
6 months ago

Russia is such a vast country, it is both Asian and European.
I have defended our Prime Minister during these last two years when the anti-Brexit, London elite have taken every opportunity to vilify him but his government’s aggressive stance and his lack of foresight over the Russian invasion of Ukraine does not bode well for our future. The Continental European countries, have given their support but have balanced that by keeping a low profile.
We must live and trade with Russia when the war is over and their citizens will benefit from this diplomacy.

Last edited 6 months ago by Iris C
Justin Clark
Justin Clark
6 months ago
Reply to  Iris C

On the contrary, we nearly won the Eurovision Song Contest… Germany gave us the full 12 points, France gave us the full 12 points. Cool Britannia! 😉

Doug Pingel
Doug Pingel
6 months ago
Reply to  Iris C

When things have cooled down, as they will eventually, if the Russians want to trade with us – they will. If they want to use our banking system (legally and above board) I’m sure they will be allowed to.) Meanwhile, arguments about who caused what aside- their conduct in war is well below what reasonably civilised nations expect. There is no need to shell unactive civilian areas, especially marked buildings where non-combatants and children are likely to be sheltering. The Russians seem to do it as a matter of normal military methods. For that I expect our politicians to rise up and make a lot of noise. I know that every army has it’s share of thugs but they need to be trained thugs. Psychopaths and sadists need to be kept aside. I speak as an ex military Junior, Man and Officer – I know it can be difficult but all “warriors” must be trained in their violent actions and reactions.

Last edited 6 months ago by Doug Pingel
Iris C
Iris C
6 months ago
Reply to  Doug Pingel

Remember Sky News showed us a video picture of the Ukrainian army firing missiles from within civilian areas out towards the Russian forces. Everything is not black and white when it comes to military strategies.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
6 months ago
Reply to  Iris C

And that justified targeting the theatre and the maternity hospital specifically?
You realise you lose credibility on this forum with such blinkers.

Jeanie K
Jeanie K
6 months ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

That theatre and maternity ospital “bombings” were shown to be staged for prpaganda reasons.

natanellider@gmail.com natanellider@gmail.com
Reply to  Iris C

Yeah, that reminds me of Hammas/ Palestinian government.

Jeanie K
Jeanie K
6 months ago
Reply to  Doug Pingel

And in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Serbia, and even as far back as WW2, Britain never bombed even one civilian. Our bombs etc as currently used by the Saudis, have not harmed one civilian in Yemen.

Last edited 6 months ago by Jeanie K
Peter B
Peter B
6 months ago
Reply to  Iris C

There is no real need to trade with Russia.
The continental European countries are doing what they always do – making a bad situation worse.
This crisis is entirely of Russia’s making and they must bear the consequences.
A humiliating defeat like Argentina in 1982 might be just what they need to finally kick out the idiots in charge over there.
Boris Johnson has many faults, but his gut reaction and instinct are usually reliable (his ability to actually stick to a plan less so). He’s called this one right.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
6 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Iris C seems to think Russia matters – but after this farce and once Putin has gone, it’ll disappear down a plughole in the next 20 years – probably fragmenting with western intervention arranged to shut down the nukes.