Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is to visit Moscow in coming weeks, the Foreign Office has announced.
His meetings will focus on the relationship between the UK and Russia, as well as issues involving Syria and Ukraine. He has admitted that there are still a significant number of differences in opinions but feels dialogue is the best way forward at this stage. The Foreign Office said the UK “will engage with Russia where it is in our national interest to do so”. The former mayor of London, now foreign secretary accepted an invitation from Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov to visit Moscow in the coming weeks.
A Foreign Office source insisted that the visit did not signal any shift in UK policy towards Russia.
“He is not going in order to reset the relationship. He has been clear in his calls with Lavrov that this can’t happen till they change course on issues such as Ukraine.
“He intends to say the same things face to face as we do in public and in Parliament about Russian activities. While it may be a tough visit, that is what needs to be done.”
The source added: “Boris has always said we must engage when in our interests. He calls it ‘guarded engagement’. He will be robust in the meetings and defend our position. This is not about cosying up, in fact quite the opposite.”
Boris Johnson will become the first UK minister to travel to Moscow for an official visit in more than five years.