Op-Ed: Russia calls Britain 'irrelevant'

Posted Sep 6, 2013 by Paul Wallis
Vladimir Putin's spokesman referred to Britain as a “diplomatically irrelevant little country no one listens to”. The exact quote is getting blurry, some saying "irrelevant little island", but the intent was obvious.
President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin during the press conference on the outcomes of th...
President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin during the press conference on the outcomes of the G20 Leaders' Summit
Host Photo Agency
The UK Telegraph:
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 remarks appeared 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 upmarket London districts.
According to the Telegraph, the statement “could not be verified” as official, but UK PM Cameron reacted, official or not:
In the (BBC) 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.
The exact reason for the Russian sneer may be a bit more prosaic:
A conservative MP, using the full rigorous powers of the English language a la Shakespeare, referred to Putin on Twitter as a “tosser” (wanker) on the same day, apparently in relation to Russian support for Syria. Russian media can find these things, too, so this might have been a return gesture.
Russians do have a sense of humour. It’s how they express it.
Actually, being an irrelevant island does have a few benefits. Australia, for example, is a big irrelevant island, and we like it that way. Relevance in this world should be considered something you can take of leave.
Just paddle old Blighty over here, park it in the Southern Ocean to get the climate right, and give the Tasmanians something to compete with.