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Positive sign? On VE Day, Putin and Johnson agree need to improve British-Russian relationship

Positive sign? On VE Day, Putin and Johnson agree need to improve British-Russian relationship
Victory Day brought a rare positive moment between Russia and the UK, as President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Boris Johnson agreed on the need to improve the badly soured relations between the two countries.

In a phone call on Friday, Putin and Johnson expressed a mutual desire for improved relations and for renewed “dialogue and cooperation” between London and Moscow, the Kremlin said.

“Both sides expressed readiness to establish dialogue and cooperation on issues on the agenda of Russian-British relations, as well as in solving pressing international problems,” the Kremlin said in a readout.

During the conversation, the two leaders also congratulated one another on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the allied victory in the Second World War. The pair agreed that international efforts must be consolidated to deal with “modern challenges and threats,” including the Covid-19 pandemic.

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British-Russian relations have soured in recent years, with the relationship taking a particular nosedive after London accused the Kremlin of being behind the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, England, in March 2018.

While there was no solid evidence pointing to Moscow, the accusation sparked a wave of Western uproar, prompting many nations to expel Russian diplomats on the word of then-PM Theresa May alone.

Russia and the UK have also clashed over the crisis in Syria and Libya, as well as on their approach to relations with Iran, with the UK and other Western allies accusing Moscow of “destabilizing” activities in the region.

The leaders’ phone chat on Friday appears to have been somewhat more positive than other recent interactions between the two, however. When the pair met in January, Johnson reportedly told the Russian president that there would be“no normalization” of the bilateral relationship until it toed the line on various international issues.

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