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Russia mocked Britain today as “a small island no one listens to”, sparking a diplomatic spat with David Cameron.

 Russia mocked Britain today as “a small island no one listens to”, sparking a diplomatic spat with David Cameron.   

The Prime Minister insisted that Britain remained a major world power.


St Petersburg – 05 Sep 2013



The Russian official is also said to have joked about Russian “oligarchs” buying up large parts of Chelsea and other upmarket London districts.


Tensions surrounding the Syrian crisis boiled over at a G20 summit in St Petersburg. Mr Cameron has backed calls for military intervention in Syria after the Assad regime allegedly used chemical weapons. Mr Putin has opposed intervention and questioned Western claims about the attack. Britain has faced questions about its role and influence in the world since Mr Cameron was embarrassed by last week’s Commons vote to rule out a military strike against Syria. Dmitry Peskov, Mr Putin’s official spokesman, is said to have highlighted that embarrassment, telling Russian journalists that Britain was now diplomatically irrelevant.


Britain is “just a small island … no one pays any attention to them”, Mr Peskov is reported to have said. The blunt remarksappeared to realise British fears that the Russians would use the St Petersburg summit to upstage Mr Cameron over his criticism of Syria, Russia’s closest Middle Eastern ally. The Russian official is also said to have joked about Russian “oligarchs” buying up large parts of Chelsea and other up-market London districts. The remarks, which were reported by the BBC, could not be verified, but were apparently accepted as genuine by the Prime Minister in a BBC interview.


In the interview, Mr Cameron angrily rejected the Russian dismissal of British influence. “I don’t accept that for a moment,” he said, insisting that Britain remained a power in world affairs. “Britain will be one of the leaders in bringing forward plans for a peace process for Syria,” he said. “Britain will be leading the argument across the globe for continuing to respond strongly on chemical weapons.” A No 10 source expressed irritation at the Russian comments. “As host of guests from the world’s leading countries, I’m sure the Russians will want to clarify these reported remarks, particularly at a G20 where it’s a very British agenda on trade and tax.”


Russia denies calling Britain a little island no one cares about


Vladimir Putin’s spokesman has denied calling Britain “a little island no one cares about,” as reports of the snub threatened to destroy a delicate facade of accord at the G20 summit in St Petersburg.


Moscow – 06 Sep 2013



Dmitry Peskov was reported to have made the comments in a briefing with Russian journalists at the G20 summit in St. Petersburgon Thursday night. “Britain is just a small island no one pays any attention to them,” Mr Peskov was reported to have said. Mr Peskov vigorously denied making the comments on Friday morning. “I simply can’t explain the source of that claim. Definitely it is nothing to do with reality. It is not something I have said,” Mr Peskov told The Times when challenged about the quotation. “I don’t know whose views it reflects. We have very positive dynamics in our relationship between Britain and Russia.” The alleged comments, which were reported by the BBC and could not be verified, sparked a diplomatic spat with David Cameron that threatened to destroy the veil of accord that has so far masked very real tensions over Syria.  


G20 summit:


Isolated David Cameron is forced to shrug off Vladimir Putin ‘small island snub’ over Syria


Few signs of unity of purpose between leaders at first day of summit, but hostility remains veiled – more or less


Joe Murphy – St Petersburg – 06 Sep 2013



James Cameron ‘got the hump’ and looks very grumpy here.

(Serves him right for bad-mouthing Pakistan while he toured India. Poetic justice)


Vladimir Putin’s spokesman was forced to deny on Thursday that he had dismissed the UK as “a small island no one pays any attention to” as the G20 summit in St Petersburg opened in acrimony.


David Cameron responded to the alleged snub, which was reported to have been made by Dmitry Peskov in a briefing to Russian journalists, by saying that he did not accept Mr Peskov had used the words “for a moment”. But a No 10 source urged Mr Putin’s office to clarify his position, saying: “As host of guests from the world’s leading countries, I’m sure the Russians will want to clarify these reported remarks.”


And today the Prime Minister told reporters: “Britain may be a small island, but I would challenge anyone to find a country with a prouder history, a bigger heart or greater resilience. We are very proud of everything we do as a small island – a small island that has the sixth-largest economy, the fourth best-funded military, some of the most effective diplomats, the proudest history, one of the best records for art and literature and contribution to philosophy and world civilisation.”


The incident was particularly troublesome for Mr Cameron who has been fighting accusations that he has been sidelined by the world’s most powerful nations following Parliament’s rejection of British military involvement in Syria and the revelation that he will not be holding one-to-one talks with Barack Obama during the two-day event in Russia.


The controversy erupted as an emboldened Mr Putin changed the G20 agenda – which was originally focused on trade and tax matters – to include a dinner discussion about Syria. His move brought the conflict to the heart of the summit, possibly in the hope that Mr Obama would be seen to have no majority support for military strikes on the Assad regime, which he favours in retaliation for the chemical attack on the Ghouta suburb of Damascus on 21 August.


Mr Putin – who has supported President Assad throughout the two-year civil war – was judged to have won the first round of his showdown with Mr Obama. A number of leaders sounded cool, and in some cases hostile, to the US President’s call for action. China’s Deputy Finance Minister, Zhu Guangyao, told a briefing: “Military action would have a negative impact on the global economy, especially on oil prices.”


St Petersburg Diary: Driving issues


Boy racers


Presidential one-upmanship was supposed to be confined to Syria, and not how each of the world leaders arrived. Each dignitary was allocated a perfectly adequate Mercedes. It wasn’t, it seems, quite adequate enough for Mr Obama who instead insisted on arriving in the Beast – his armour-plated limo – after a grand show from Air Force One. At least this time the Beast behaved itself. During his most recent trip to Ireland it got stuck on a sleeping policeman.


Alphabet soup


A game of diplomatic musical chairs seemed to have spared red faces at last night’s formal dinner, where guests were seated in alphabetical order. Using the Cyrillic alphabet – as might have been expected for a meeting in Russia – Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin would have faced the uncomfortable prospect of being forced to sit next to each other. Thankfully, one bright official thought up the idea that the Roman equivalent might be used instead.


A soft Assad


While the tough talking got under way in St Petersburg, the Syrian presidency thought it would be a good opportunity to show its softer side. Asma al-Assad, Bashar’s British-born, Louboutin-loving wife, launched an Instagram account showing her cuddling children and dishing out meals.



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