The UK’s Struggle with Russia

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Following the developments and increasing tensions in recent days, the United Kingdom (UK) has warned Moscow that if Russia invaded Ukraine, it would have “catastrophically high” consequences.[1] In this regard, Nick Carter, Former Chief of Staff of the UK, said that Russia has become a major threat to Eastern Europe and that his country should be ready for war with Russia.[2] Currently, Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov has called on the UK, the USA and Canada to deploy troops in their countries in the face of the increasing Russian threat at the border.[3] In this context, Reznikov requested the “Anglo-Saxon allies” to act outside NATO to provide weapons and other support to the Ukrainian Army if necessary. This is because France and Germany, which represent the Eurasian wing in NATO and Europe, do not intend to go to war with Russia.[4]

Although the increasing dependence of France and Germany on Russia in the field of energy and their partnerships within the scope of the Nord Stream-2 Project are suggested as the reason for this, it can be said that these two want to develop a more independent policy from the USA and to share/take on the leadership in the West. As a matter of fact, this issue is highlighted as the main reason for the tension between the USA and the EU in recent years and its reflection on NATO. In this regard, London wants Europe to end its dependence on Russian natural gas.[5] Yet, in a possible hot conflict with Russia, Britain and the USA will have to fight against Russia alone as they will not be able to get support from the European powers. Seeing this threat, London announced that it would send an armored brigade to Germany after about ten years. Moscow, on the other hand, accused England of approaching its territory. Russia’s Ambassador to the UK, Andrei Kelin, warned that “There is a very serious risk of war.” between the two countries.[6]

Germany, one of the key actors here, may signal a return to Ostpolitik (Eastern policy) through cooperation with Russia. At this point, you have to ask the question: “Can the Atlanticist wing in NATO be successful in Russian policy by relying on Berlin?” The answer will definitely be “no”. In a broader interpretation, the United Kingdom and the United States do not trust either Germany or France within Europe in the fight against Russia. Inasmuch as, while “Eurasian” ideas are getting stronger in Europe, The Atlanticist trend is gradually weakening. This is because the Atlantic powers (England-USA) are at war within themselves. Eurasian powers are in competition with Washington and London in many geographies from the Indo-Pacific to Asia.

As stated above, the Western World is a fragmented structure within itself. Therefore, it is no longer at the center of the international system. As a rising power in the world system, Russia and China are challenging the West, the old established powers. This situation causes England and the USA to fall into the Thucydides Trap against Russia and China, respectively. According to the said understanding; existing dominant-established powers go to power maximization because of the perceived threat from rising powers. Due to these threat perceptions, they make wrong moves and these dangerous steps eventually cause them to fall into a trap (go to war).

There is a possibility that the two countries may enter the war by taking wrong steps, since the UK as the resident power perceives a threat from the rising power Russia. The USA, another established power, is struggling with the rising power China, and there is a risk of war here too. As a matter of fact, Graham Allison, who put the Thucydides Trap into a theoretical structure, dealt with 16 events in which another emerging power faced against the current dominant power in the historical process and determined that 12 of these tensions resulted in war. For this reason, the tensions between the UK-Russia and the USA-China are likely to result in war.

The four great powers here are trying to draw each other into war. First, the USA wants to drag the UK into the war against Russia. For this, the crisis in Ukraine is quite favorable. Secondly, the UK wants to make the USA fight China over the Taiwan Crisis. Thirdly, Russia may want China to erroneously enter the war against the United States, thereby losing power in Eurasia. Fourth, China may find it positive for its own interests that Russia is fighting the UK over tensions in Ukraine.

In order to explain the reasons for this; First, the United States considers Britain to be its rival in Asian politics. Besides, Washington emphasizes that London does not fight China as it should, does not distance itself from Beijing or takes a side against it. Secondly, the UK sees the withdrawal of the USA from power areas in Asia, especially Afghanistan, as an opportunity. As the US weakens in Asia, Britain fills the power vacuum. This is the reason why war of the US with China will open up more space for the UK. Third, Russia is quite disturbed by the military-security moves in China’s immediate surroundings. China’s war with the United States will mean a weakening of both powers. Russia will emerge advantageous from this conflict. Fourthly, China is disturbed by the fact that the UK constantly brings up the issue of human rights, especially regarding the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and Tibet, and uses it as a means of pressure. Therefore, Beijing, which wants to divert all of the UK’s attention from the Pacific, will also want it to concentrate all its power on Europe. In this respect, making England fight Russia would be a very pragmatic method for China. This is because Russia’s power in Asia will weaken and Beijing will make Moscow dependent on itself and will benefit from this power vacuum that will occur in Asia. In short, a conflict between the UK and Russia is the most pragmatic scenario for the Beijing administration.

[1] “UK to Russia: Invading Ukraine Would Have ‘Catastrophically High’ Consequences”, Politico,, (Date of Accession: 10.12.2021).

[2] “UK Must be Ready for war with Russia, Says Armed Forces Chief”, The Guardian,, (Date of Accession: 10.12.2021).

[3] “Ukraine’s Defence Minister Urges Military Support from Canada, U.S. and Britain-Even If It’s Outside NATO”, The Globe and Mail,, (Date of Accession: 10.12.2021).

[4] Ibid.

[5] “Europe Needs to end Energy Dependency on Russia, Says UK Foreign Minister”, Reuters,, (Date of Accession: 10.12.2021).

[6] “Russia Warns UK There Is A ‘Serious Risk’ of War with Tensions Rising in Ukraine”, Mirror,, (Date of Accession: 10.12.2021).

Dr. Cenk TAMER
Dr. Cenk Tamer, 2014 yılında Sakarya Üniversitesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü’nden mezun olmuştur. Aynı yıl Gazi Üniversitesi Ortadoğu ve Afrika Çalışmaları Bilim Dalı’nda yüksek lisans eğitimine başlamıştır. 2016 yılında “1990 Sonrası İran’ın Irak Politikası” başlıklı teziyle master eğitimini tamamlayan Tamer, 2017 yılında ANKASAM’da Araştırma Asistanı olarak göreve başlamış ve aynı yıl Gazi Üniversitesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Doktora Programı’na kabul edilmiştir. Uzmanlık alanları İran, Mezhepler, Tasavvuf, Mehdilik, Kimlik Siyaseti ve Asya-Pasifik olan ve iyi derecede İngilizce bilen Tamer, Gazi Üniversitesindeki doktora eğitimini “Sosyal İnşacılık Teorisi ve Güvenlikleştirme Yaklaşımı Çerçevesinde İran İslam Cumhuriyeti’nde Kimlik İnşası Süreci ve Mehdilik” adlı tez çalışmasıyla 2022 yılında tamamlamıştır. Şu anda ise ANKASAM’da Asya-Pasifik Uzmanı olarak görev almaktadır.