The suffering in Syria and the Ukraine is still so terrible, a face to face exchange of views has been judged the best way to progress the situation. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson will therefore be taking up FM Lavrov’s invitation to visit Russia. No Foreign Secretary has visited Russia for five years, but this visit will certainly not be a resumption of the status quo. Boris had only been Foreign Secretary for a couple of months when he was thrown in at the deep end over Syria.
I blogged in September last year “Boris Johnson bashed the UN with huge force this afternoon over world inaction and inertia over Syria. “400,000 dead and the UN has blood on its hands,” said our Foreign Secretary.”
“He continued: “It is a conflict that is being fed, nourished and armed and protracted and made more hideous by the actions and the inactions of governments in this room.”Boris concluded: “If in a year’s time, we are here and there is still bombings, killings, slaughters and massacres going on in Syria then I am afraid that the responsibility for that will lie overwhelmingly with the UN and above all with the Assad Regime and its sponsors”.”
On October 12th last year, Putin went bananas at Boris’s speech in which he outright accused the Russians of war crimes.
The temperature between Russia and the UK sunk to zero, but it was the Russians who broke the impasse. Aware that he will certainly not hold back in a “free and frank discussion” on difficult subjects, Boris was given an open invitation to visit Russia, an invitation he has just accepted.
Boris is aware of the dangers of “Kompromat”, but no progress in Syria and the Ukraine is being made. The ceasefire brokered by the Russians has not held, and the Russian invitation indicates that Putin is at least, willing to listen to what Boris has got to say. Boris has grabbed the ear of the Russian bear. Let’s see where face to face negotiation gets us.