Putin Ditches Decades-Old Trade Deal With UK, Weeks After Duma Says Brits Need To 'Lose Weight'

That spiky comment followed new British sanctions over Alexei Navalny's death.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has officially torn up an old British trade deal this week.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has officially torn up an old British trade deal this week.
MIKHAIL METZEL via Getty Images

Russian president Vladimir Putin officially scrapped a UK fisheries deal on Monday, weeks after the country’s parliamentary spokesperson said Moscow should let Brits “lose weight”.

Putin signed the law on denouncing the 1956 fisheries agreement – originally struck between the UK and Soviet Union – this week.

The president tore up the 68-year-old deal after the UK’s new sanctions in relation to the mysterious death of the Putin critic, Alexei Navalny, last month.

Discussions around dropping the UK deal arose when Russia’s parliamentary speaker, Vyacheslav Volodin, renounced the agreement on February 21 – and said Brits should “lose weight, get smarter”.

He said: “It is difficult to say what guided [Khrushchev] but it was definitely not national interest.

“When people ask if we can respond to sanctions, the answer is: we can.

“The British need to study some proverbs – ‘Russians harness the horse slowly, but ride it fast’.”

Volodin added that the “unscrupulous British” had dined out on Russian fish for 68 years, and said: “Now let them lose weight, get smarter.”

Russia said last month that this decision was in response to the UK’s sanctions on six people in charge of the Arctic penal colony where Navalny died earlier this year.

At the time, a UK government spokesperson responded: “UK vessels do not fish in these Russian waters so this would have no material impact on our fish supplies, including cod or haddock.”

They added that Russia had not notified them of any change at the time, but withdrawing from the deal is a sign of Moscow’s “self-inflicted isolation on the world stage”.

In 2023, Sky News found up to 40% of cod and haddock eaten in the UK comes from Russia and its territory.

Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev signed the original deal to allow British boats to fish in the Barents Sea with the UK back in 1956.

It was seen as an essential turning pointing in the Cold War as a warming up of the relations between the West and Russia.


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