Russia is angry following Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s call in parliament for demonstrations outside its London embassy over its air strikes on the Syrian city of Aleppo. Should we care?
Russia’s ruthless pursuit of its own geopolitical aims by propping up the despicable regime of President Bashar al-Assad is the real disgrace here. But Johnsons’remarks were decidely unhelpful.
Firstly even if the people took to the streets to carry out Johnson’s bidding, which was always unlikely and turned out not to be the case, a demonstration outside its London embassy will have zero effect on the policies formulated in the Kremlin.
But what it did do was allow the Russians to respond with the narative that this is all part of a Western establishment conspiracy aimed at whipping up hatred of Russia.
The good that can be done with decent, even workmanlike relations with Russia is immense, even if we have to hold our noses while having the discussions. Althought talking the country out of its support for Assad is unlikely we need Russia to agree to allow humanitarian aid to the thousands of civilians still trapped by the fighting without shelter, food or water.
So what actually helps is constructive dialogue and Johnson should be able to resist the temptation to shoot from the lip. It was probably best summed up by the French foreign minister Jean-Marc Aryault who asked “Is it the job of a foreign minister to organise demonstrations?”. No, it is not, and Johnson needs to better understand what the job actually requires. It seems the crazed dangerous clown phenomenon will just not go away.