Kawczynski, a member of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee and special advisor to Prime Minister David Cameron on Central and Eastern Europe, is in Moscow together with four other Committee members on a fact-finding trip aimed at thawing relations between London and Moscow.
Speaking to the Russian broadcaster RT, Kawczynski said that he came to the Russian capital “to find out what the situation is and report back to our own parliament” on improving relations. The MP emphasized that Russia is an “important strategic partner for the UK and the West,” and added that many British companies interested in doing business with Russia believe that the EU’s anti-Russian sanctions are “flawed, impractical and illogical.”
“What my government has to start to understand is that the Ukrainians are not fulfilling every aspect of the Minsk 2 agreements,” the politician said. “Our media is very effective in scrutinizing and being critical of Russia, while completely ignoring some of the shortcomings on the Ukrainian side,” he added.
The politician also emphasized that the crisis in Russian-Western relations over Ukraine must take political realities into account. “It’s extremely important that the sanctions have some form of logical and practical end-game. I don’t believe that Russia will hand back Crimea during the course of my lifetime, and I believe that Russia believes that Crimea is an integral part of Russia,” Kawczynski noted.
“Let’s try to work together on implementation of [the] Minsk 2 agreements. Let’s try to work with the Russians to try to resolve some of the outstanding issues of Minsk, and let’s get back as soon as possible to a normal trading relationship.”
Commenting on the growing military tensions in Eastern Europe as NATO builds up its presence in the region, the lawmaker warned that in his view, “anybody who doesn’t want to lower tensions between Russia and NATO…is quite frankly playing with fire; we heard about all the interceptions between NATO and Russia over the skies, over the Baltic states. This is a tinderbox situation. Let’s not forget that both sides have enough nuclear weapons to annihilate each other.”
Ultimately, Kawczynski said that for his part, he would “be pushing very, very hard for extra scrutiny on our government as to how to improve relations with Russia. I’ve even challenged our own prime minister on the floor of the House of Commons, [asking] what is he doing to lower tensions with Russia. We don’t want this dispute to continue. Some of us see Russia as a very, very important potential strategic partner for our country.”
“We want to push our government to show publically that despite all the differences – and by the way there are major differences in how we perceive things, major cultural differences, let’s not treat Russia like a pariah when we are bending over backwards to accommodate China.”
The Foreign Affairs Select Committee’s report on Anglo-Russian relations will be published in September. Kawczynski said that he wants to organize another visit of lawmakers to the country after Russia’s September parliamentary elections.