‘Things aren’t easy between us’: Boris Johnson spars with Russian counterpart

things arent

Boris Johnson and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov sparred over the issue of alleged Russian meddling in the Brexit referendum during the first visit by a British foreign secretary to Moscow for five years. Johnson was in Moscow on Friday to engage with the Russians on global issues such as Syria and North Korea but also to warn them over election interference. The public statements suggested there had been little progress on either front. During a joint press conference, Lavrov made the latest in a series of blanket Russian denials over interference in western votes, and said Johnson himself had said there was “no evidence of Russian interference in the Brexit referendum”.

Johnson corrected the Russian minister, saying: “‘Not successfully’ is what I said.”“He’s scared that if he doesn’t disagree with me, his reputation will be ruined at home,” Lavrov said. “Sergei, it’s your reputation I’m worried about,” Johnson retorted.

The exchange, only half-joking, was symptomatic of the deep discord in the relationship. In public comments before the talks, Lavrov chided Johnson for his public criticism of Russia and said the miserable state of bilateral relations was London’s fault.(theguardian)…[+]