U.K. officials say Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson will visit Russia in the coming weeks, but they said he would not drop his tough line on Moscow’s involvement in Syria and Ukraine.
“The prime minister [Theresa May] 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,” a U.K. Foreign Office spokeswoman said on March 4.
The date for the meeting will be confirmed later, she said.
Johnson will meet with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, the Foreign Office said. It will be the first visit by a U.K. foreign secretary to Russia since 2012
“Discussions will focus on the U.K.-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,” the spokeswoman said.
Johnson has regularly criticized Russia, particularly over its support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is supported by Moscow.
Johnson has also opposed easing of sanctions against Russia for its illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region and its support of separatists in eastern Ukraine.