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Since 2016, RUSI has coordinated a UK-Russia Security Dialogue co-hosted with the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), a think tank based in Moscow. As improving the diplomatic relationship and maintaining lines of communication between our two countries has become increasingly difficult, the Dialogue format provides a forum for industry experts, academics, and opinion formers to discuss sensitive security questions in an open way, and think through realistic ideas for deeper policy engagement at an official level.
UK-Russia diplomatic relations fell to a new low in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, Russia's subsequent military intervention in eastern Ukraine and the rounds of western sanctions introduced against Russia. This already tense situation was exacerbated by the Skripal incident in the UK in March 2018, prompting a serious downturn in bilateral relations, which have remained in deep freeze ever since. Notwithstanding this political environment, the UK and Russia have several mutual security concerns that require joint consideration, or at the very least, coordination. This project attempts to create a forum in which sensitive security threats can be discussed, with the eventual aim of providing ideas for policymakers on how to mitigate the collapse in formal government security relations.
As part of this project, RUSI and RIAC hold regular roundtable events in Moscow and London, where participants from a range of non-governmental institutions and industries debate important security questions. Participants in particular are encouraged to think through possible ideas for our respective governments to consider in their formal deliberations. Most recently, in 2018-2019 four roundtable sessions were held alternately in London and Moscow, which included discussions on the future of nuclear arms controls; organised crime and terrorism; the Middle East, and cyber security.
After each event, one Russian and UK participant publish a short joint article, reflecting some of ideas discussed in the roundtable sessions. These articles can be found below. The most recent final report for the 2018-2019 financial year can be found below, which highlighted the most salient discussion points from the roundtables. A translation of the project can also be found in Russian here. Both the Russian and English versions of the final report have been circulated widely in the media, following their publication.
This project is now moving into its fourth year, and its continuation is a testament to the importance of maintaining a connection with the Russian expert community, notwithstanding persistent tensions at a political level.