Updated February 22nd, 2024 at 15:03 IST

Russia scraps 1956 Anglo-Soviet Fishing Agreement: Explained

The Cold War-era agreement allowed British vessels access to the fishing grounds of the Barents Sea, the coast of the Kola Peninsula, and Kolguyev Island.

Reported by: Sankunni K
Russia fisheries agreement withdrawal | Image:Russian President Vladmir Putin, UK PM Rishi Sunak
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Russia fisheries agreement withdrawal: Russia has announced its withdrawal from the 1956 Anglo-Russian Fisheries Agreement, forged by Britain and former Soviet Union premier Nikita Khrushchev. This move underscores the widening gulf between Russia and the West amid escalating geopolitical tensions.

A Cold War relic

Anglo-Soviet Fishing Agreement, 1956 (Image: Cambridge)

The 1956 Anglo-Russian Fisheries Agreement, signed during a pivotal moment in the Cold War, allowed British vessels access to the rich fishing grounds of the Barents Sea, the coast of the Kola Peninsula, and Kolguyev Island. It symbolised a brief period of thawing tensions between Moscow and London. However, as relations between Moscow and the West have deteriorated, the agreement has come under scrutiny.

"When Nikita Khrushchev accepted this deal in 1956, it is difficult to say what guided him but it was definitely not national interest," Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the State Duma lower house of parliament, said in a statement.

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"The British need to study some proverbs: 'Russians harness the horse slowly, but ride it fast'."

Geopolitical fallout

Russia's decision to terminate the Anglo-Russian Fisheries Agreement comes in the wake of its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, which triggered severe backlash from Western powers. The subsequent imposition of stringent sanctions by the West further strained relations, leading to Moscow's reassessment of its international agreements.

Economic and security concerns

The economic consequences of the agreement's termination are overshadowed by broader security concerns for Russia. Foreign vessels operating in the Barents Sea raise suspicions of espionage, posing a potential threat to Russian military interests in the region.

Volodin, a close ally of Putin, reiterated the Kremlin's view on the collapse of the Soviet Union, considering it a tragedy and blaming Mikhail Gorbachev for being tricked by a deceitful West intent on humiliating Russia. "With Gorbachev, we lost our country, and with Putin we got it back," Volodin said.

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Published February 22nd, 2024 at 15:03 IST