LONDON — Boris Johnson will tell Russia to “keep its nose” out of western elections amid growing concerns that the Kremlin is trying to influence the outcome of the upcoming German election.
The Foreign Secretary is due to visit Moscow in the coming weeks after telling journalists in Brussels that the Kremlin is “up to all sorts of no good” in regards to influencing western democratic processes.
Western political figures are worried that Russia will try to influence September’s federal election in Germany where the country’s Chancellor Angela Merkel is vying to stay in office.
Last month, the Russian government denied allegations that it took part in an attempted coup during an election in Montenegro last year. Two Russians were accused of trying to assassinate pro-NATO politician Milo Đukanović.
Speaking in Belgium this week, Johnson said:
“I think it’s very important to understand that Russia has to be engaged on a twin-track basis.
“They are, I’m afraid, engaged in cyber-warfare, they’re engaged in undermining countries in the western Balkans — you saw what happened in Montenegro — to say nothing of Russia’s actions in Ukraine which are as everybody knows completely unacceptable.
“So point number one is to get that message across to the Russians. They have got to change, they have got to show that they can be trusted again and that I think that is very important.”
He added: “But it’s also important to stress that we are not in a new cold war with Russia. Neither in the UK, nor [from] our friends in the rest of the EU, nor in Washington, is there any appetite for a new cold war.”
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon echoed Johnson’s warning to Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
“There is a growing body of evidence now that there has been a step change in Russian behaviour and Boris will leave them in no doubt as to our firmness on that,” he said.
Neither Johnson nor Fallon confirmed whether the former would be meeting with Putin while in Moscow.
There is concern among some British MPs that Russia intervened in the run-up to Britain’s referendum on EU membership last year.
Labour MP Ben Bradshaw is in a group of MPs who want the government to disclose more information regarding what they know about Russian involvement in the referendum campaign.
“Our government clearly knows more than they’re letting on and I think it’s slightly suspicious that they’re not being more open about it. In fact, they’re being less open than any other Western democracy has been,” Bradshaw told Business Insider last month.
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