The British ambassador in Moscow today demanded that Vladimir Putin end his war against Ukraine after being harassed by onlookers during her arrival in Russia’s far east.
Envoy Dame Deborah Bronnert ran a gauntlet of boisterous propagandists who followed her down the street when she arrived for a visit to Vladivostok, the Kremlin’s capital in the Pacific.
One repeatedly told her, “You’re not welcome here,” while another loudly declared, “Britain is a sponsor of terrorism.”
The ambassador told the small staged protest: ‘We want peace’, and tried to continue speaking, but was soon interrupted and told over and over that Britain was ‘a sponsor of terrorism’.
But she hit back: “We want peace. Russia must stop the war.’
British ambassador Dame Deborah Bronnert demands Russia end war in Ukraine when she arrives in Vladivostok on March 7, 2023
Bronnert was met by hecklers and protesters holding signs
On previous diplomatic visits, protesters also came forward to greet Bronnert with placards labeling Britain a terrorist state
British Ambassador Dame Deborah Bronnert (L) pictured with Russian President Vladimir Putin (R)
Bronnert came to Vladivostok – seven time zones east of her permanent residence in Moscow – to visit the city and a war cemetery.
According to reports, she had no official meetings with the pro-war authorities in the city.
The envoy has faced several similar protests in recent months during Russia’s war in Ukraine, which has been condemned by the UK, particularly in Yekaterinburg and in the Russian capital.
In November, she clashed with pro-Putin protesters in Moscow when she was summoned by Russian authorities amid claims that Britain was helping to plan attacks against the Nord Stream pipelines and the Black Sea Fleet.
Bronnert was dragged to the Foreign Office and forced through what appeared to be staged protesters holding signs reading ‘Britain is a terrorist state’ and ‘Britain will answer for the Nord Stream’.
Moscow said it had lodged a “strong protest” with the envoy, adding that “such confrontational actions by the English carry a threat of escalation and could lead to unpredictable and dangerous consequences.”
Deborah Bronnert, the British ambassador to Russia, was summoned to the Foreign Office in November to see ‘evidence’ that the UK helped attack the Nord Stream pipelines and the Black Sea Fleet
Demonstrators – who appeared to be staged – carried banners reading ‘Britain is a terrorist state’ and ‘Britain will answer for the Nord Stream’
Russia has ramped up rhetoric against the UK as Ukraine invasion failed, with Western officials saying the wild claims are a diversionary tactic
Demonstrations in central Moscow are rare and usually quickly crushed by police – suggesting Thursday’s action was carried out with tacit support from authorities
Britain is probably the target because it is the main support for Ukraine – it has given more than any other country except the US
Bronnert lives in Moscow with her husband Alf Torrents, who is the leader of a business forum set up to boost trade with Russian companies – despite sanctions against the Putin regime.
Torrents, 57, is executive director of the Russo-British Chamber of Commerce, leading his wife to question whether her role as a representative of British interests in Russia conflicts with his job.
Protests erupted last month after the Daily Mail revealed that British luxury brands such as Rolls-Royce are still trading in Russia.
In peacetime, the Torrents organization lobbied for smooth trade with Putin’s regime. In 2016 – two years after the Kremlin annexed Crimea – it urged Parliament to “recognize Russia again as a global trade and investment priority” and “re-evaluate sanctions.”
Although it scaled back its activities after the invasion of Ukraine, it remains active and recently placed an ad for a new treasurer.
Last week Torrents hosted an event to ‘update’ members on the political, trade and consular situation. It was held at the British Embassy and was addressed by Bronnert.
Alf Torrents, 57, is executive director of the Russian-British Chamber of Commerce, leading Bronnert to question whether her role as representative of British interests in Russia conflicts with his job
Torrents, who lives with his wife in Britain’s official residence, a 19th-century merchant house opposite the Kremlin, told in 2020 how his chamber of commerce held “regular consultations” with the Foreign Office, whose diplomats were “never but supportive been’. ‘.
In another interview, he said he worked “closely” with the British Embassy to “advance the interests of our members.”
When Bronnert, 55, was announced as ambassador to Russia in 2019, the official notice did not mention Torrents or his job, unlike her previous appointment as ambassador to Zimbabwe, when he was mentioned.
Since the invasion of Ukraine, the UK has sought to isolate Russia on the international stage and impose harsh sanctions. Trade there is virtually banned and most British companies cease their Russian activities.
An informed source said of the Russo-British Chamber of Commerce: “The question is whether a lobby group – especially one that has vociferously argued against sanctions – should have such personal access to HM Ambassador in Moscow.”