Boris once called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “manipulative tyrant” and likened him to the big-eared, bug-eyed “house elf” from the Harry Potter series. But the surprise appointment of Boris Johnson to head the British Foreign Office is being cautiously welcomed by Moscow. Russia has greeted the change in Foreign Secretaries and Prime Ministers, with qualified approval. David Cameron’s departure was greeted with Russian cheers.While Putin has not avoided the undiplomatic jibes Johnson has trained on several world leaders, Russian officials suggested that the change in government in Britain — following Prime Minister David Cameron’s departure in the wake of the ‘Brexit’ vote to leave the EU — presents a chance to pipe some warmth into ties that that have been chilly for a decade.
Boris led the Brexit campaign, whose success was hailed by many Russian politicians, they are notoriously anti-EU. Moscow may see Johnson as more open to making “deals” with Russia, say analysts. Or they are sussing out the competition, who knows? This has to be an opportunity though for a positive step forward in international relations.