Russia’s foreign ministry has dismissed the UK as having little real influence over world affairs, after the Foreign Secretary cancelled a visit to Moscow. Boris Johnson decided not go to Russia amid growing pressure on President Vladimir Putin to cut his ties with Syria’s Bashar al Assad in the wake of a suspected chemical attack that killed at least 87 people, including children. Mr Johnson had been due in the Russian capital on Monday but will stay away as G7 foreign ministers draw up their coordinated response. US secretary of state Rex Tillerson is then expected to deliver a message that the Kremlin faces international isolation if it stands by the regime in Damascus.
[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. We don’t believe we need dialogue with London more than [London] needs it [with us].
Russian foreign ministry statement
It was later announced that Russia, Iran and Hezbollah would increase their support for the Syrian military after the US fired 59 cruise missiles at the airbase from which it believes the gas attack was launched. Mr Putin and Iranian president Hassan Rouhani also called for an investigation into events in Idlib.
[Boris Johnson] should be in Moscow now. He should be saying to the Russians just how appalling this situation is and the role they should play. We have got to be frank with them and we shouldn’t just allow the Americans to go off and do that, we should be doing that ourselves.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell