Russia has said Britain has ‘no real influence’ as Boris Johnson called for Moscow to face ‘complete international ostracisation’ unless Vladimir Putin removes his support for the Syrian regime.
Mr Johnson at the weekend faced claims he was Washington’s poodle after he agreed to pull out of a planned visit to Moscow following discussions with the US.
Russia said the cancellation ‘once again confirms doubts about the added value of dialogue with the British, who don’t have their own position on the majority of current issues.’
The British have ‘no real influence on the course of international affairs, remaining ‘in the shadow’ of their strategic partners,’ it added.
‘We don’t believe we need dialogue with London more than (London) needs it (with us),’ it said.
The statement added there was a ‘fundamental misunderstanding or ignorance of what is happening in Syria and Russia’s efforts to resolve the crisis.’
Russia slammed Brtain after Boris Johnson cancelled a scheduled visit to Moscow over its support for the Syrian regime, claiming Britain has ‘no real influence’ internationally Boris Johnson will today lead calls for Russia to face ‘complete international ostracisation’ unless Vladimir Putin removes his support for the Syrian regime
Mr Johnson pulled out the visit so the G7 – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Britain and America – can agree a joint plan, which will then be delivered by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson instead.
At a meeting of G7 foreign ministers in Italy, the Foreign Secretary will demand the Kremlin is slapped with sanctions unless it agrees to the removal of Bashar al-Assad within months.
Yesterday Mr Johnson’s aides claimed he himself had taken the decision to abandon the meeting, so they could ‘deliver a clear and co-ordinated’ message to Moscow.
Whitehall sources last night said Mr Johnson was pushing for the group to agree sanctions against Russia ‘if they continue to support a regime that gasses its own people’. One source familiar with the discussions said: ‘Very punitive sanctions on Russia for Syria is one option being considered.’
Punishments being discussed include economic sanctions and further isolation from the international community, including the threat that it will not be allowed to re-join G8 group of nations.
In 2014 Russia was suspended from the group of leading economies, to which it was admitted in 1998, over the annexation of Crimea.
A Foreign Office source said: ‘The plan we want is Assad gone from Syria, there is no future for him, we need to work out how to do that. So there will be a timeline hopefully for Assad to go, or a commitment from the G7 that there is no future for Assad.’
Mr Johnson wants to see a plan under which Putin agrees that Assad needs to go, removes Russian troops from Syria, and helps to rebuild the troubled state.
A government source denied claims Mr Johnson had been pushed into cancelling his trip to Moscow because he was not trusted by America.
He said: ‘The important thing is that this is Britain helping to influence US policy, far from being a poodle, three months ago Syria wasn’t really an issue for them but our push and recent events have made a difference.’
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said Russia was to blame ‘by proxy’ for Assad’s chemical weapons attack because it was the Syria’s ‘principal backer’.
Writing in the Sunday Times, Sir Michael said, however, Russia must be part of the solution.
He also reiterated his support of Mr Trump’s cruise missile strike in the early hours of Friday, saying it has ‘sent a strong signal to the Syrian regime to think twice before using gas in the future’.
Mr Tillerson echoed the comments, telling CBS TV that the Russians ‘have played now for some time the role of providing cover for Assad’s behaviour’.
But asked about the possibility of further intervention, he said Washington’s ‘first priority’ in Syria is to defeat Islamic State.
In an ominous threat raising the prospect of war, Russia and Iran said the US President had crossed a ‘red line’ with his bombardment on the forces of Bashar al-Assad (shown)