Despite noises of outrage over the Skripal case, Brexit makes former friends even more unlikely to back Britain, Guardian assistant editor Simon Tisdall reported.
According to him, it is also plain, as Theresa May embarks on an open-ended confrontation with Moscow, that the dispute provoked by the Salisbury outrage could take years to resolve, and Britain will need all its friends and allies if it is "to prevail against a ruthless opponent."
"Whether sincere, sufficient and timely support will be forthcoming is in serious doubt," the author of the article noted.
There are the usual strategic and diplomatic considerations: Russia is an influential actor in big international issues such as North Korea and Iran. There are important business and trade interests. And then there is sheer political complacency.
According to Simon Tisdall, Trump’s persistent refusal to criticise Putin directly, whether it be over use of chemical weapons in Syria or covert campaigns to subvert US elections, suggests the Russian leader has some kind of hold over him, possibly relating to Trump’s past business dealings in Russia. Germany, chronically dependent on Russian energy has obvious vulnerabilities in a hypothetical confrontation. France has commercial interests at stake. Many in Italy want to lift Crimea-related EU sanctions. And so on and so on.
"So when Trump assures Theresa May of his unstinting support, she should take his words with a large pinch of salt. Trump talks a lot. But what he does, or does not do, matters more," Tisdall noted.
Tisdall said that when Emmanuel Macron, France’s president, speaks of “solidarity”, Britain beware. That favourite French word can mean anything or nothing. Similar scepticism must apply to expressions of support emanating from Brussels and other EU capitals.
"Rallying these friends and partners into a cohesive alliance capable of facing down Putin, and forcing a step change in his behaviour, is a tall order for May. And now, uniquely, it is all the more problematic because of Brexit. To suggest that bad feeling over Britain’s unamicable departure will have no impact on future EU cooperation in such cases is delusional. Naturally, everybody agrees what happened in Salisbury is an outrage. But actually doing something practical to help out the Brexiting Brits, especially if it harms national interests, is another matter entirely.
When push comes to shove, it seems unlikely Trump and Europe will give May the full backing she desperately needs as she goes up against one of the world’s most unscrupulous and dangerous leaders. It is going to be a long war – and not only with Russia," the author summed up.