British top diplomat will "engage but beware" on visit to Russian Federation

Issues involving Syria and Ukraine where both sides "continue to have significant differences" will also be high on the agenda, according to the spokeswoman.

Earlier this year, he also told the House of Commons that the Kremlin was "up to all sorts of very dirty tricks" as he revealed British officials agreed with American intelligence agencies that Russian Federation was behind the hacking and leaking of documents from the US Democratic National Committee last year.

Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson will travel to Moscow in the coming weeks for talks with his counterpart Sergey Lavrov, making him the first United Kingdom minister to visit the Russian capital in more than five years.

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

The British government said it would engage with Russian Federation where it was in our national interest to do so. He will be robust in the meetings and defend our position.

Mr Johnson's trip will see him become the first minister to travel to Moscow for an official visit in more than five years.

In a visit to the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, Johnson ruled out relaxing sanctions against Russian Federation.

But Mr Johnson's visit will not be with a clean slate.

Sources said Mr Johnson will not "cosy-up" to his hosts during the trip, and the Foreign Secretary has given personal assurances to Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko that Britain is not changing its position towards Russian Federation and he will convey a "tough message" on the situation in the country to Moscow.

"There is no question that, when you look at Russian activity on the cyber front, when you look at what they are doing in the western Balkans, when you look at what has been happening in the Ukraine, you've got to be very, very cautious. We don't want to get into a new Cold War".

  • Larry Hoffman