LONDON, July 12 Britain has delivered a
calculated diplomatic snub to Russia by failing to invite any of
its government officials to next week's Farnborough Airshow in
protest over Moscow's actions in Ukraine.
The Farnborough International Airshow (FIA) is a major event
in the aviation calendar to which Russia usually sends a large
contingent in the search for foreign sales.
But in a statement on Saturday, the Foreign Office said it
would not be offering Kremlin officials their usual invitations
and was taking steps to tighten military export rules from
Britain to Russia.
"It is a commercial matter for the organisers to whom they
sell exhibition space," it said in a statement.
The government, it said, does invite representatives from
certain foreign states to attend the show as guests.
"But due to Russian actions in Ukraine, no representatives
from the Russian government have been issued (government)
invitations to FIA 2014," it added.
The statement said it had also taken action to remove Russia
from the list of those countries able to use Britain's most
flexible type of strategic export licence - the Open General
Export Licence - to discourage Russian attendance at the July
"No foreign government representatives attending FIA 2014 as
guests of (the British government) will be escorted around the
Russian pavilion by officials," it concluded.
No immediate comment was available from the Russian embassy
Britain and its NATO partners accuse Russia of supporting
pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine but Moscow denies
that it has allowed fighters to cross the border, along with
heavy weapons, to confront Ukrainian government forces.
Tensions over the crisis in Ukraine have already depleted
this year's Farnborough show, with Russia adopting a scaled-down
presence, focusing on civil displays and the space industry.
"It's obvious that because of tensions with Western
governments over differences between Russia and Ukraine, the
military presence is really scaled down at this year's
Farnborough," said Alexander Velovich, sales representative for
Russian and Ukrainian clients at the show.
Many Russian visitors have struggled to obtain British visas
and on Friday more than 100 of the expected 450 delegates were
yet to receive clearance, said Velovich.
(Reporting by Stephen Addison, editing by Louise Heavens)