Boris Johnson says ‘no appetite’ for Cold War with Russia ahead of visit to Moscow
Speaking ahead of a scheduled visit to Moscow in the next few weeks, Johnson said it was important for the Western world to “engage” with Russia and help shape its policies, Ruptly reported.
“Point number one is to get that message across to the Russians. They've got to change, they've got to show that they could be trusted again.
“It is very, very important. But it is also important to stress that we are not in a new cold war with Russia,” Johnson said before entering an EU foreign and defense ministers meeting in Brussels, the Ruptly video shows.
The Foreign Minister’s comments come amid news that he has accepted an invitation by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to visit Moscow.
It would be the first time since 2012 that a minister has visited the Kremlin.
While details of the visit are still to be announced, a Foreign Office (FO) spokeswoman said that it would not be the usual “business” meeting, and that it would be based on the “engage but beware” approach agreed by Johnson and PM Theresa May.
“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,” the spokeswoman said, the BBC reported.
“This is not a return to business as usual and the foreign secretary will continue to be robust on those issues where we differ.”
The Kremlin says there are currently no plans for Johnson to meet President Vladimir Putin during the visit to Moscow.
A FO source said Johnson would have no reservation in saying what the UK disagrees on with Russia, especially on controversial subjects such as Syria and Ukraine.
“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 said, as quoted by the BBC.
It added that the visit would be “quite the opposite” from “cozying up” with Russia.
Johnson has recently accused Russia of engaging in cyberattacks after allegations linked to the hacking of the US Democratic Party during last year’s presidential election.
The Russian embassy responded, saying Johnson was trying to spark a new Cold War.