Showing that the subtle, lightly humorous school of Kremlin diplomacy, previously thought to have been buried with Molotov and Gromyko, is still alive, Vladimir Putin …Well, I’ll let the always reliable Daily Mail take up the story:
Russia dismissed Britain as ‘just a small island no one pays any attention to’ last night as a summit of world leaders descended into acrimony over planned military strikes on Syria. In an astonishing attack, Vladimir Putin mocked the UK’s size and influence, and boasted that Soviet oligarchs had ‘bought Chelsea’. However as controversy erupted, Russian officials flatly denied the remarks – attributed to President Putin’s official spokesman Dmitry Peskov – had ever been made….
This tweak of the old lion’s tale could not be left unanswered. A return trip to the Crimea would have been a bit of stretch for what’s left of the British Army, but a unparliamentary tweet flew from the keyboard of one British MP, and a number of Fleet Street’s finest noted that the Russian leader was not the tallest of men. Not to be outdone, the Daily Telegraph’s Tim Stanley put together a list of ten ways in which Britain is “vastly superior” to Russia, including “an alphabet that makes sense” and a reluctance to put dogs in space.
And then there’s this:
British films last 90 minutes, not 4 hours. Everyone says Andrei Tarkovsky is a genius, but his best movie – Solaris – features a ten minute close up of an actor’s ear. “Comedies” also tend to involve fat men falling in ponds and women crying about the price of bread. Dwarves feature prominently.
David Cameron preferred, however, to take the high road, accentuating the positive with this fine peroration, which Guido has helpfully set to music.
Land of Hope and Glory. Of course.