UK-Russian relations have reached their bottom line, with the UK government attacking Moscow on two sides - one is over eastern Ukraine and another is the Litvinenko case, Russia expert Martin McCauley told RT.
RT: It's been almost 8 years since Litvinenko's death. So why has the Home Office decided to open a public inquiry now?
Martin McCauley: They say they have evidence which they did not have before, which could lead to a verdict. So presumably they have something - witnesses or some material - which they believe can lead to a guilty verdict, fingering someone for the murder of Litvinenko.
RT: The UK made the details of the investigation secret and refused to go public last year. So why's it being made public now?
MM: I think there is some connection between this statement and events in eastern Ukraine. Link these two things together and put Russia under pressure – it’s another spoke in the wheel of bad Anglo-Russian relations, so the government is putting pressure now on Moscow. They are attacking on two sides, one side is through eastern Ukraine and another is the Litvinenko case. It’s interesting to see when the case comes to trial how much of the evidence which previously was regarded secret will actually be revealed, because that is presumably from intelligence sources, and they may have to reveal their intelligence sources which could in fact be very embarrassing.
RT: David Cameron's spokesperson said it's in no way connected to the current situation in Ukraine... Would you agree?
MM: I think he was saying that because he would say “This is a legal case and we have been looking at the evidence for a period of time, we have been collecting evidence, talking to witnesses and we have now reached a position where we can proceed to a court case.” But most people would see some connection between this statement and that they are going to go to court and the events in eastern Ukraine. The average person would do that, and I would do that, and they would see this is not coincidence, and in fact that is a decision by the government to go ahead with this case at a very delicate moment in Anglo-Russian relations.
RT: What evidence do you think they have?
MM: I do not know, because that evidence has to be revealed in open court. The British government is in a difficult position because presumably it has information from intelligence sources. Are they British intelligence sources or are they foreign intelligence sources? Is the information from agents? Are the agents foreign personnel? This came out in an open court; it could be quite difficult for the British government so therefore, they must have taken a decision that they can reveal a certain amount of the information which previously was secret in an open court.
RT: How do you think the inquiry might affect the already strained relations between Moscow and London?
MM: I think it would be hard to make relations worse than they are at present, because there is a very low ebb, anger in Anglo-Russian relations. If you look at the last hundred years [they] have normally been quite difficult and at present they are very difficult indeed, so therefore, it is difficult to imagine that this trial would make matters worse. It will annoy Moscow of course, and they would say this is pointing a finger at Moscow, and they would claim they are innocent, they have stated it many times in the past and they would say that Britain is in fact making politics, in fact trying to drive Russia into the corner and describe it as a "bad boy", and in this way they would increase their credibility in the world.
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