Boris Johnson
Upcoming Russian visit for UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is to visit Moscow for high level talks, making him the first UK minister to visit Russia in over five years.

The Foreign Office said the visit – which is due to take place within weeks – will focus on the relationship between the two countries and the current conflicts in Syria and Ukraine.

The visit follows an invitation to Johnson from Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and timings for the event are currently being worked out.

Beware

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: “The Prime Minister and 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.”

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

Engage

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

It is believed that the visit does not represent a change in UK policy towards Russia – especially when the two countries are so far apart on many issues including Ukraine.

The upcoming visit is not expected to be particularly easy with words such as “robust” being used to describe the talks.

Tricks

It also comes at a time when Johnson has been publicly critical of Russia – most notably accusing the Russians of engaging in “dirty tricks” over international cyber attacks.

In an interview last month, Mr Johnson told the BBC: “You have got to engage with Russia, but you have got to engage in a very guarded way. You have got to beware of what they are up to.

“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.

“I think it is entirely right to have a dual track approach. We don’t want to get into a new Cold War.”