UK

Boris Johnson To Visit Moscow In Coming Weeks

'This is not a return to business as usual.'

04/03/2017 11:37 GMT

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is to visit Moscow.

The move signals a potential thaw in Anglo-Russian relations after years of antagonism.

Johnson will be the first minister to travel to Moscow for an official visit in more than five years.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: “The Foreign Secretary has accepted an invitation from Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to visit Moscow in the coming weeks.”

SERGEI SUPINSKY via Getty Images
Boris Johnson is to visit Russia in the coming weeks, the Foreign Office has announced 

The spokeswoman added: “The Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have made clear that our policy towards Russia is to ‘engage but beware’, and the visit is entirely consistent with this approach.

“Discussions will focus on the UK-Russia relationship and current international issues including Syria and Ukraine, where we continue to have significant differences.

“This is not a return to business as usual, and the Foreign Secretary will continue to be robust on those issues where we differ.

“We have always been clear that the UK will engage with Russia where it is in our national interest to do so.

“Details of precise timings will be confirmed in due course.

“A potential visit has been in the pipeline for some time, with the Prime Minister and President Putin discussing this when they met in China in September 2016.”

Government sources told the Press Association that the visit does not represent an attempt to reset relations with Russia.

They said that could not happen while Moscow continues its stance on the situation in Ukraine.

Johnson will be “robust” with his hosts and not “cosy-up” to them during the trip, the sources added.