The UC Interview Series: Sir Roderic Lyne

Interviewer: Nikita Gryazin, UC Fellow

Nikita Gryazin is reading for an MPhil in International Relations at the University of Oxford. Currently, he is a UC Fellow, YGLN Member and ELN Officer at the European Leadership Network, Research Assistant in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford, and Co-Editor for the UK Politics section of the Oxford Political Review.


Interviewee: Sir Roderic Lyne

Sir Roderic Lyne, KBE CMG, is a former British diplomat who served in various positions from 1970 to 2004. Among his roles, he served as Foreign Affairs Advisor to the Prime Minister (1993-6), UK Ambassador to international organisations in Geneva (1997-2000) and UK Ambassador to Russia (2000-04). Sir Roderic subsequently served as a member of the Iraq Inquiry (2009-16); Deputy Chairman of the Royal Institute of International Affairs (2008-16); and Chairman of the Governors of Kingston University.


I) PAST EXPERIENCE: On a Summer in the Soviet Union, on the Rule of Law, on Putin's First Years in Office


Nikita:            Thank you for your time, Sir Roderic. I am very pleased to be able to speak with you today. As I am starting my career in the field, it would be so interesting to know, first of all, what made you become a diplomat? Why a diplomat, and not, for instance, a politician, or a businessman?

Sir Roderic:   I was always keen on a career in public service. I wanted to work internationally. I wanted variety and I wanted to do something with my life that I genuinely believed had value, that was worthwhile. Until I went to university, I was interested in becoming a pilot in the Royal Air Force, which is what my father did. I even learnt to fly. During my student years, I flew - I was in the Air Force Reserve.

                        But looking for a long-term career, I became increasingly interested in international relations. I had some experience from our embassy in Moscow in 1961-2 when my father was serving there as the defence attaché. Also, during my time in Moscow, I met a girl and I married her in 1969. Her father was in diplomacy and she was quite interested in continuing that form of life. So that was really why I applied to the Foreign Office.

Nikita:            And why did Russia become one of your main destination goals?

Sir Roderic:   I became interested in Russia accidentally, because when I was 13 years old, I found myself spending my summer holidays in Moscow. It was in in 1962, very few people from England visited the Soviet Union at that time, and it was incredibly interesting because of the total contrast with our way of life and political system. I'd learnt a bit of Russian at school, I got interested in Russian history, I was interested in Russian literature. Culturally, Russia was fascinating to me, and it was at the heights of the Cold War. I was in a big, dark, mysterious space called the Soviet Union. So, there was an awful lot to dig into and that was what headed me in that direction.

                        In my first year in the Foreign Office, all the new entrants were given a form and asked if we wanted to learn a hard language, so immediately I said yes: I wanted to learn Russian. That led to my first posting in Moscow. In the end, I spent 34 years altogether as a diplomat, and about half of those 34 years I was working on the Soviet Union or Russia, serving there for a total of 10 years and working in the bits of the Foreign Office that dealt with that area. The other half of my time, I did totally different things. So, I got some variety.

Nikita:            In your work, what was the hardest period in terms of Russia-West relations, when you faced the most obstacles from the Russian, or perhaps the British side?

Sir Roderic:   There were several hard periods.

                        In the Soviet Union, life was never easy for a foreign diplomat because we were so heavily surrounded by the KGB who were often pretty unpleasant people. There were several episodes when KGB and GRU activity in Britain led to the British government expelling so-called Soviet diplomats and journalists who were actually intelligence officers. And whenever that happened, the Soviet Union would retaliate by expelling an equivalent number of British who, nevertheless, were mostly not involved in intelligence work, simply because we don't have organisations on the scale of the KGB or the GRU.

                        I arrived in Moscow in 1972, a year after the British government had expelled one hundred and five Soviets. It was the largest number of people ever expelled from any country. Consequently, the Soviets threw out quite a lot of our embassy staff and didn't give visas to many people. So when I arrived, we were very understaffed and we were very heavily constricted as a result of this retaliation. That wasn't pleasant.

roderic lyne

                        I was also in Moscow from 1987 to 1990, and that was an incredibly interesting period. Many aspects of life were being liberalised. A lot of things that gave one real optimism were beginning to happen. But again, there were some spies thrown out from Britain; they threw out a number of my colleagues and also some British journalists. On the personal level, that was very unpleasant, when you have to sit down and tell some of your colleagues who are enjoying their jobs and their life in a particular place, that they've got to leave within two weeks. Moreover, it completely disrupts their career if they're Russian specialists.

                        On my last posting as the UK Ambassador to Russia, the relations were very good for the first three of my four years. But the last year became difficult. And, again, it related to the secret service, the FSB, and to some of the very hard line, very anti-Western people in positions of power in Russia. Surely not all powerful people in Russia hold anti-Western views, but some do, like Nikolai Patrushev, who makes no secret of his paranoia about the West.

                        We ran into problems when the Russian government demanded that Mr. Berezovsky, and before that the Chechen former culture minister Ahmed Zakayev, should be sent back from Britain to Russia. The Zakayev case failed when it was presented at British court. The Russian government alleged him of murdering a priest. It turned out the priest he was supposed to have murdered was alive, and so the court refused the extradition. In Berezovsky´s case, and he was not as good a man as Zakayev, he successfully argued that if he was sent back to Russia, he could not expect fair treatment and his life would be in danger. The British government eventually granted him political asylum. As a retaliatory move, the FSB launched raids in the British Council, which is not actually a government organisation but an independent agency. But anyway, the FSB smashed their way into the British Council offices, took their computers, and intimidated and threatened the staff. That was incredibly unpleasant. They had no justification for doing it, they broke the law. And of course, it caused quite a chill in our relations.

                        Dealing with that was very difficult. I had endless discussions with the Foreign Ministry and others about that particular affair. And it was quite obvious to me that it was a pure act of retaliation because we were following the law. And the rule of law is not something that the present regime in Russia is prepared to respect, either at home or abroad.

                        But despite several hard periods along the way, dealing with the Soviet Union and then with Russia was interesting because it had these challenges. I never had a single moment of boredom in the 10 years I spent in Russia.

Nikita:            Indeed, Russia is always an adventure. Now, let us focus on events and issues that have shaped modern Russia. In your opinion, is there any one underlying issue which complicates Russian relations with the West?

Sir Roderic:   If you analyse all of the contentious issues that have arisen over the last 15 years between Russia and what we used to call the West, the UK, Western Europe, the United States, you see that they all, every single one of them, have their roots in our belief in the rule of law, but there is a refusal of the people ruling Russia to respect the rule of law.

                        That's also true of the annexation of Crimea. You can produce quite a good historic justification for it, but it was a grotesque breach of the rule of law to annex a part of somebody else's territory. And you can make a similar case whether you talk about Skripal, Litvinenko, Browder, or the Yukos affair, and you could go on and on. Take the abuse of international humanitarian law in Chechnya: Russia had perfect right under international law to try to prevent Chechnya, which is recognised as part of the Russian Federation, from seceding. No one disputed that, the point was the extreme brutality used by Russian forces in both of the Chechen wars. All together it raises a more general question of whether or not the rulers of Russia are prepared to abide by the law.

Nikita:            I wanted to discuss with you Yukos and Nord-Ost specifically as it was during your ambassadorial period. You said three out of four years were good in terms of relations. How did you see those events? Was it, for example, a signal that Putin was not the democrat that people perceived him to be in 2000 or, that Russia was changing rapidly and considerably?

Sir Roderic:   The Yukos affair was an internal issue. It wasn't particularly an item in Russia's relations with other countries, although obviously Yukos had investors from overseas. Honestly, I don't think we were ever convinced that Putin was a great believer in democracy, even if he used to talk about it quite a lot at the time. But it was clear in the early 2000s that there was a serious effort being made by the government to promote modernisation, to make better use of Russia's historic scientific and technical skills, which were degrading at the time, to make Russia a more competitive market economy. And people like Gref, Kudrin, even Kasyanov, they were outstanding; it was essentially a reformist administration. They were even seriously looking at breaking up Gazprom and developing a much more competitive model of gas industry.

                        As for Khodorkovsky, he had behaved pretty badly in the 1990s, particularly around the time of the 1998 crash. But, at the same time, he had developed the most effective privately owned oil company in Russia. He became sort of a poster child for not only an effective, but also a more honest form of the Russian market economy moving away from the 1990s.

                        The arrest of Platon Lebedev, which clearly foreshadowed the arrest of Khodorkovsky, was a warning signal to him. We knew that Khodorkovsky was being put under pressure, but he didn't knuckle down. There were also other signals: the way they were arrested on trumped up charges and put on trial with a judgement that was dictated by the Kremlin and read out at great length by a judge who clearly had never seen it before; or the way that Yukos was effectively stolen by the state and its assets used to create Rosneft. That all showed that there'd been a complete change of direction at the top, away from a market model and towards a much more state-dominated, state-controlled economy. This new model has led to a complete new breed of oligarchs who are all people associated with Putin, as it was well described most recently in Catherine Belton's book.

                        I sensed at the time that the wind was changing, I mean, this was a very, very serious development. When you look at it in the broad sweep, I think that a lot of it was caused by the rise of the oil prices. Russia still owed huge amounts in foreign debt at the time. The new administration was obsessed with it, and they were constantly bringing this up with us when I was there. They asked the West to write off their debts, which we were not keen to do, not least because it wouldn't be good for Russia's reputation in the debt markets in the future. As the oil prices rose very rapidly, Russia went from being in debt to being considerably in surplus. And I think the people at the top were looking at this and saying, “well, all this economic reform is really some hard work, and we were partly doing it because we were under pressure from the IMF and the Western partners, but now we've got this money we can tell these foreigners to stop telling us what to do.” And I think it was too attractive.

                        More and more of the successful private bits of the economy got swept up into big corporations: I remember when a major private producer selling titanium successfully to American aircraft manufacturers got taken over by the state. And this was happening all over the place. Yukos was, I think, the biggest example.

                        At the time, I had lots of discussions with very bright Russian economists, and they were all arguing that this model was not the way forward for the country. They said, it was going to lead to a new era of stagnation, which is exactly what we've had since 2008. But, at the same time, it has made people associated with the Kremlin unbelievably rich.

Nikita:            Have these developments in economics and in politics influenced Russia-West relations in the long run?

Sir Roderic:   Putin put a huge effort in his first two or three years in power into developing close relations with the West. The support that he gave to George Bush immediately after 9/11 and when the Americans went into Afghanistan was very important. It also caused the American attitude towards Putin to change: they, for example, turned in favour of Russia joining the G7. In the UK Tony Blair led the initiative to upgrade NATO's relations with Russia: the Russia-NATO Council was transformed in 2002 to become a single body rather than Russia on one side and the members of NATO on the other. At the time, it was seen as quite important.



                       Western leaders, people like Blair, Chirac, Bush, most famously Schroeder, also invested in their relations with Putin, and not just on a personal level. We were working very hard to integrate Russia more closely into the leading councils of the world, to build up our trade with Russia, to strengthen our cultural relations, and so on. We worked to fully normalise relations with Russia in every respect.

                        Despite the endless disagreements the Western nations have, they share a basic belief in the rule of law, democratic values, human rights and fair treatment within market economies, as it all is embodied in the U.N., the Council of Europe, documents on human rights, etc. And in these three years, we moved a long way with Russia in that direction. But we were constantly trying to reassure ourselves that Russia was going to stay on this track under Putin, while there were indications of the opposite. In the period around and following the Yukos affair, the Gusinsky affair, and then leading into the 2004 election, I think more and more questions were raised in the minds of Western leaders about the direction that Putin was taking.

                        Already, the campaign before the 2000 presidential election which brought Putin to power was not very fairly conducted, particularly in the way that television was used to destroy opposition candidates such as Primakov and Luzhkov, even if both of them were flawed personalities. But the 2004 election was a complete farce, and that did not do any good to Putin's reputation overseas. At the G8 meeting that year Tony Blair had a public row with Putin about the conduct of the elections and about democratic procedures. Putin got very cross with Blair and said not to lecture him on democracy. Clearly, things were beginning to move in a different direction at this stage. And then, of course, Ukraine came and the development there caused a huge breach.


II) CURRENT ISSUES: On How We've Gotten Where We Are, on the New American Administration, and on Leadership Change in Russia


Nikita:            I read your chapter written for Chatham House in 2015, entitled Russia’s Changed Outlook on the West. If I understand it correctly, you don't think that Putin's regime’s confrontational views of the West have changed in years. Did it start in the period we have just discussed?

Sir Roderic:   Yes, it hasn't changed; it has just gotten worse. I, indeed, think that the Orange Revolution was the fundamental turning point for Putin in his relations to the West.

                        When Putin started out in 2000, he immediately reached out to the West. It was not popular with the hard-line elements within the Russian military defence or the FSB, and Putin knew he took some risks. He closed the bases in Cuba and Vietnam, which was a very deliberate gesture to show to the West that he was getting rid of the Cold War. Restoring the relationship with NATO, which had got fractured over the bombing of Belgrade, was also a really important step and it was very unpopular with the many elements in Moscow who felt that NATO should have been made to apologise.

                        Putin took a gamble, if you like, and he invested for three years in building up these relations. And all the time, I think, there were people trying to drip poison in his ear and saying: “They don't want a strong Russia. They want a weak Russia”. They were looking for the moment when they could say to Putin, “you've been fooled by the West, they're not your friends. They are the enemies.”

                        The issues around Russia's borders were acutely sensitive to anybody in the Russian political firmament, Ukraine and Belarus in particular. There was a great belief in Russia in the sort of Russian version of the Monroe Doctrine, and they took a very zero-sum view of the fact that Western influence was seen to increase in Ukraine. I was warning before I left Moscow in the summer of 2004 that any push for Ukrainian membership in NATO was absolutely fissile material. It was clear to me all along, but I'm not sure all Western leaders really understood. I think there were people, particularly in America, in the neoconservative circles, the “John Bolton Brigade”, who simply didn't understand that because they actually had very little understanding of Russia.

                        In the 2004 Ukrainian elections, Putin invested very heavily in Yanukovych. He sent his own advisers, he personally went to Kiev just before the election. So, when Yanukovych was turned over – that was the most humiliating defeat that Putin ever suffered in his life. I remember that Putin was very angry at the time. I was still in quite close contact with people in the Kremlin, and some officials were saying to me, “he is so angry that when he comes into the office, we all hide under the desks”.

                        It weakened him significantly; serious political observers were speculating that he wouldn't last in power until the next election in 2008. In this situation, his old KGB friends came saying that this was all done by the West. He refused to take phone calls from Western leaders for quite a long time. And from that point on there are two Putins. There's quite rational Putin who had accepted the case for modernising Russia including some westernizing policies. And there is the paranoid, insecure Putin, a very suspicious person. I don't know if I quoted this in the Russia challenge piece, but Stalin once said to Mikoyan: “I don't trust anybody, not even myself”, and I feel that Putin is like that. People close to him confirm the same thing: he is absolute paranoid about his personal security and really overdoes it, he knows many people would like to kill him. Ukraine only played into Putin's paranoia and the paranoia of people around him.

                        All this works to the advantage of quite a lot of people in Moscow: if you are in the intelligence organisations, if you are in the military, you need to have an enemy to justify your budgets. In the sense, these people had to reinvent NATO and the West as an enemy to reinforce their own power and to justify their budgets and their actions. That's why I think Ukraine was critically important turning point, and then you just go forward from there.

Nikita:            That's why we had this famous Munich speech in 2007.

Sir Roderic:   In fact, we have a continuum that starts in 2005 with the Orange Revolution and runs through the Munich speech. People should not have been as surprised by the Munich speech as they were; at least I wasn't. But it made the world sort of wake up.

                        And then we arrive to the 2008 Bucharest summit of NATO, which was a massive mistake on the Western side trying to push Georgia and Ukraine into NATO. It was stupid on every level at that time. If you want to start a war with Russia, that's the best way of doing it. Moreover, any poll in Ukraine showed that two thirds of the Ukrainian public did not want NATO membership. Joining NATO is also not a simple process, and Ukraine was not physically in the state to join NATO. Georgians did want to join. But they thought NATO would save them, which was a miscalculation. Georgia is too small, honestly, to be of much use to NATO. Moreover, it is a divided country, and putting NATO’s footprint, into a very unstable region of the Caucasus did not make any strategic sense.

                        We should have thought: how will this be perceived in Russia? Not as a question of Moscow having a veto on NATO membership, but as a matter of calculation. And the answer to that takes about two and a half seconds of thinking: there are no benefits and huge drawbacks. At the NATO Summit, Angela Merkel quite rightly tried to block it.

                        The final compromise communique, to me, is one of the most stupid documents in modern diplomacy. The paragraph in the Bucharest communique about Georgia and Ukraine should be framed and put on the wall of every Western diplomat as an example of what not to do. It combines the worst of both worlds: it upsets the Georgians and the Ukrainians by not giving them a Membership Action Programme and it upsets the Russians by saying someday these guys are going to join NATO. That gave every excuse needed to the hardliners in Moscow to say: “NATO is declaring war on us. They're coming to take Georgia and Ukraine.” And, as a result, Russian troops were marching towards Tbilisi later that year.

                        Round two of the Ukrainian battle came when, again, I think the EU rather overplayed its hand. There were exactly the same factors involved, and it led to Crimea and the little green men, to the Donbass and Lugansk, to sanctions, and that takes us to where we are now. And then just mix in a little bit of the unbelievable stupidity of using biological weapons to try to kill people in Salisbury to cement the image of the Putin regime as being a rogue state, a pariah state, a state that has zero respect for international law, international treaties, and international conventions. And I just don't see that this can change.

Nikita:            Perhaps with Joe Biden as US President we can expect another reset with Russia?

Sir Roderic:   The American reset last time was a disaster. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama got that completely wrong, and it led nowhere. If Biden gets elected, I don't think the Americans will try another reset, so I think we are stuck at the moment. On the Russian side, for several years now, people in the political military leadership, like Gerasimov, say that the West is waging economic war against Russia through sanctions, and that it is completely justified to respond by other means. Besides using various forms of cyber and political action, even trying to kill traitors like Skripal is completely justifiable because, you know, it is a war. We're not firing, thank God, nuclear missiles, but we are at war from their perspective. And I cannot see that changing while Putin and his groupare in power and I do think it will change afterwards.


Nikita:            When we look at the current situation, we see protests in Belarus and Navalny’s poisoning. In your opinion, which current events will define Russian relations with the U.K. or with the West in years to come?

Sir Roderic:   To turn things around in the future, we would need to re-establish a sufficient degree of trust or of confidence, that you can really talk to each other. Even in the Cold War, we maintained contact and I think it's really important; by talking to people you can at least assess where they’re standing. I think that we must sustain every form of contact we can and to invest in the future, because Russia is not defined just by the people currently in power. That's why I'm a big supporter of the University Consortium.

                        But at the macro level, I think the track record of criminality within the current political leadership goes so deep that while it is possible to have a conversation with Putin, and people like Macron are trying to do so, to establish a real basis for cooperation, a real change of approach has to occur in Russia. And that, I think, can only be done with different people at the top with a different mentality.

                        Of course, as much as I would love to see liberal democrats in power in Moscow, that is not going to happen anytime soon. But it is not unrealistic to think that the next generation of political leaders can be of a plural, more managerial kind. There are plenty of really intelligent, really bright, well-informed, well-educated people in their 40s or 50s in the Russian elite. They know perfectly well that this endless confrontation with the West isn't in Russia's interests, that it isn't going to help to develop Russia. Some have been brave enough to put this in writing, like Kudrin. Even Dmitri Medvedev said this from time to time. He is not stupid, he is rather weak and, according to Navalny, corrupt. At some point, the Grim Reaper is going to close in; this generation is not immortal. And the incoming new people who will certainly wish to control the country, they probably won't be massively democratic, but they will feel a real need to improve the lives of the middle and lower bits of the economic spectrum. Otherwise, their hold on power will not be very stable. And this is, I think, where we get to China.

                        I think they see that China is squeezing Russia and looks increasingly threatening from a Russian point of view. Any deal with China is struck absolutely on Chinese, not Russian terms. As a counterbalance to that, they may wish to have a better relationship with Western Europe. That would also benefit us in many ways, particularly on an economic level but also in terms of culture and popular context and it would allow us to actually reduce military expenditure.

Nikita:            But what needs to be done? From a Western point of view, then, what does Russia need to do to prove their bona fides?

Sir Roderic:   Well, the first thing is to stop doing some of the stuff that's happening now. You could turn off these cyber-attacks and this massive amount of trolling. The other thing needed is a settlement on Ukraine and that's perfectly achievable.

                        I don't see that a future Russian regime is going to give back Crimea but it might say: we can start a long running negotiation on Crimea. That's about as strong as it can go, but it may save the Ukrainians. Let's see if we can't have a legitimised, negotiated handover of Crimea and in exchange for some compensation. There are things which can be done over Crimea that leave it in Russia's hands. In many ways, from Ukraine's point of view, getting rid of Crimea was a good thing: Crimea was quite expensive, it wasn't really Ukrainian territory. It's just the way it was done that causes problems.

                        In Donetsk and Lugansk, potential solutions may be mapped out through the Minsk and the Normandy processes. These are all soluble issues, you only need a will to do so. Once there is a settlement on Ukraine, the West has every reason to lift most of the sanctions and a whole series of things can start to be rebuilt, including arms control agreements. We can start, maybe rather quietly, talks about what we all want to do about China or start to really seek solutions to things like Syria and Libya, where we have some overlapping interests, and those that conflict are not vital national interests. We can work together again, all of that's perfectly feasible, but I don't think it's going to happen with the current people in power.

                        We can progressively move into better relations. A lot of this will depend on how successful the next bunch of people in power in Russia are in dealing with some of their internal issues and in introducing much more law based processes within Russia. If you are going to develop a modern society in Russia, you need the separation of powers, judiciary and the legislature that are separate from the government, which doesn't exist right now. You may need rather more devolution to governors and state assemblies, and so on.

                        I think that it can be done, and I think that there would be great appetite for that from the Western side. But that is all years down the track even though Putin always likes to leave his options open. He likes to surprise.

Nikita:            So, do you think something could change earlier than 2034?

Sir Roderic:   2034 is a very long way off and Putin is 67. I think how long he stays in power will depend on the people of Russia and how long they are prepared to tolerate the failure to improve their living conditions. In general, they are living much better than people lived in the Soviet Union 30 years ago, but most of them don't remember that. And actually now official propaganda has produced a sort of haloed version of the Soviet Union where life was wonderful and things were stable and you didn't have crime and all the rest of it, which just isn't true. I remember how bad things were.


                        But at the moment, people do not feel their life is getting better. They've been angry about corruption for years, they see a lot of criminality and huge inequality. In some of the poorer regions, public services are very fragmented. When you have to pay to go to a doctor who is supposed to be available for free, these are things that make people angry. Nevertheless, it's impossible to sit here in London or actually even in Moscow, and really feel at what point this anger might have a serious effect on who holds power in Moscow. If things start to break down in a bigger way, that could put a lot of pressure on the people in power and it might lead to an earlier change in the leadership. I don't exclude those possibilities, but it's impossible to forecast.

                        Clearly, Putin and the people around him are desperate to keep control. This doesn't necessarily mean Putin remaining as president, but the rulership of the country needs to be in hands friendly to him and his friends. Otherwise, life becomes dangerous for them, and they are fearful because they know that they are not legitimate. And if you're not legitimate, then that makes you insecure.


III) MESSAGE TO YOUNGER GENERATION: You've only got one life. And you want to use it in a way that really has value.


Nikita:            Thank you for such insightful thoughts, Sir Roderic. Now I would like to ask you for advice for the younger generation, like me. Let me put it this way: if you could send your younger self a message from the present, what would it be?

Sir Roderic:   I think the first thing that I would advise anybody to do, is to get themselves really well qualified while they have the opportunity in the educational system. Don’t be too demoralised by the current situation, it will pass. Develop a flexible range of skills because we now live in a much more fluid economy, a world where you don't necessarily have to make a lifetime choice on your career in your 20s, which most of us in my generation did. Highly qualified people with a flexible attitude now have the ability to move between different branches of activity and indeed between countries. It was much harder when I was growing up.

                        I think the most important thing for anybody to remember is that there are no pockets in a shroud. You've only got one life. And you want to use it in a way that really has value. And I don't mean value expressed in your bank account. Ultimately, when you go, you can't take your bank account with you. I still feel at the age of 72 that every day is precious. I want to have done something useful on every single day of my life, and that's, in a way, what drives me on.

                        We all have different aspirations, different talents, different qualifications. It's really important to know yourself, to take a hard look at yourself and to work out: what are your strengths, what are your weaknesses. Then do what interests you and fits your personality and your abilities, and that is different for every single individual.

                        I realised early in life that I had no particular talent. I could see people with very strong talents in different areas: it might be mathematics, playing the violin, or sport, whatever. If I'd had a scientific talent, that would have been a wonderful thing to develop, maybe in some area of medical research or whatever. But I have recognised all along that I don’t have any special talent, that I was a sort of generalist, and that has shaped my life. So, know yourself by assessing your own self, don’t try to become a banker if you're not very interested in living in a highly competitive world; we're not all made to be bankers. That's my personal philosophy, and I suppose in a way, that's how I've chosen to live my life.

                        The other thing is very personal, and again, it varies from individual to individual: the thing I value most about my life is ultimately not my career, it's not things I've done in my career, though some of those were very interesting and I look back on them with a degree of satisfaction, but what really matters to me is my family. I had three children, sadly, one of them died this year, which is a terrible blow. Each of my three children are married and I have eight grandchildren. So that's a group of 14 people who are fundamentally important to me. And if I can add value to them, even if I've done nothing for anybody else, then I will feel that my life has been worthwhile as I look back on it now, nearer the end than the beginning. That's very personal to me and some other people will choose to live their personal lives in a different way, but one's personal life and one's professional life need to fit together. And if your family is important, then that will shape what you might do in your professional life.

Nikita:            Incredibly inspiring, thank you so much for that. Success is not about financial gains then. As you are saying, it’s more about individual happiness; it's the understanding of yourself and what you really would like to do in life.

Sir Roderic:   It's not about titles. It's not about positions. It's not about publicity. It's certainly not about money. It is about adding value in the areas where you as an individual are capable of making the world a slightly better place. And that, to me, is how I would define success.

Nikita:            Thank you so much for your time. This has been a really inspiring conversation.