Talks are in progress to set up a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Theresa May more than a year after the Skripal poisoning. The proposed meeting would happen at the G20 summit in Japan later this month prior to Mrs May’s exit from Downing Street, according to The Times. The G20 summit is being held on June 28 and 29 in Osaka, Japan. Downing Street has yet to comment on the proposed meeting but The Times reported one would only go ahead if Mr Putin believed it would have a purpose.
The two world leaders last met at the G20 summit in Argentina in November.
Mr Putin approached Mrs May informally for a brief period of time.
Relations between the UK and Russia have been strained for months over the poisoning of former Russian agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia on March 4, 2018.
The pair almost died after being infected with the nerve agent Novichok in Salisbury, Wiltshire and spent weeks in a critical condition in hospital before being released.
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Russia has continually denied any involvement but failed to offer a valid explanation for two Russian agents who were in Salisbury at the time of the attack, as named by the UK government.
An interview later gave by the two men saying they were sightseeing, proved to be hugely embarrassing for Russia due to their unconvincing stories and factual errors.
Tensions rose further after UK allies sided with Mrs May and ordered the biggest expulsion of Russian diplomats since the Cold War.
The Kremlin retaliated by expelling Western diplomats in return.
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While diplomats will closely watching the developments between Mrs May and Mr Putin, Boris Johnson’s past sharp attacks on the Russia president will not go unnoticed.
Mr Johnson, currently the frontrunner in the Tory leadership race, has previously criticised Mr Putin on several occasions.
As Foreign Secretary during the Scrikpal poisoning incident last year, he said it was “overwhelmingly likely” Mr Putin was behind the attack.
He said: “Our quarrel is with Putin’s Kremlin, and with his decision – and we think it overwhelmingly likely that it was his decision – to direct the use of a nerve agent on the streets of the UK, on the streets of Europe, for the first time since the Second World War. That is why we are at odds with Russia.”
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Mr Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov hit back, saying: “We have said on different levels and occasions that Russia has nothing to do with this story.
“Any reference or mentioning of our president is nothing else but shocking and unpardonable diplomatic misconduct.”
Mr Johnson has also criticised Russia for its close relationship with Syria.
All of this could prove difficult if the former minister is named as Mrs May’s successor new month.
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