Johnson reckons US understands danger of Russia
The new US administration understands the need for caution in dealing with Russia, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said yesterday.
After his first meeting with US secretary of state Rex Tillerson during the G20 summit in Bonn, Mr Johnson said they agreed that dealings with the Kremlin had to be handled in a “very guarded way”.
While neither theUS nor the UK wanted to see a return to the cold war, they were clear Moscow should not be allowed to carry on with its current behaviour.
“When you look at Russian activity on the cyber front, what they are doing in the western Balkans, when you look at what has been happening in the Ukraine, you have got to be very cautious,” said Mr Johnson.“We don’t want to get into a newcold war. But nordowewantRussian behaviour to continue. Rex Tillerson has been very clear about that.”
His comments come amidUS scrutiny of the administration’s attitude towards Russia following the resignation of national security adviser Michael Flynn over his contacts with the Russian ambassador before Mr Trump’s inauguration last month.
US defence secretary General James Mattis, at a meeting of Nato defence ministers in Brussels, brushed aside an offer by Vladimir Putin of co-operation with western agencies to combat international terrorism.
The Russian president said it was in the interests of both to work together in the counter- terrorism arena. But Gen Mattis said the Kremlin must show it would abide by international law and honour past agreements with Nato if there was to be a return to security co-operation, broken off by the US following Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. There was “very little doubt” thatRussia had either interfered or tried to in anumber of elections in the democracies.
Nato defence ministers yesterday decided to increase the alliance’s naval presence in the Black Sea in response to an increasingly aggressive Russia.
Secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said Nato will hold more war games and training in the strategically important sea, which borders allies Turkey, Bulgaria andRomania, but alsoRussia, Ukraine and Georgia.
Boris Johnson in pensive pose at the G20 summit, where he met Rex Tillerson
Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, left, with his US counterpart Rex Tillerson