‘Foreign affairs amateur’: Boris Johnson may face problems finding common language in Moscow

© Victoria Jones / Reuters

The British Foreign Secretary might face difficulties in establishing a dialogue with his Russian counterpart, UK experts have told RT, suggesting Boris Johnson is not experienced enough to improve “low ebb” relations.

“Deep down, he’s not a foreign affairs specialist. He’s more concerned about politics in general and would like to become next British prime minister, so his audience is always the British audience,” author and Russia analyst, Martin McCauley said ahead of the UK’s politician first official visit to Russia.

“When he goes abroad, he often offends his interlocutors by making off the cuff remarks and jokes,” McCauley added, suggesting that his country’s foreign secretary should avoid the English sense of humour which, apparently, is not very well understood outside the UK.

“He must use direct, simple language,” the analyst suggested, adding, that at present, Johnson often “ends up using grandiloquent phrases, allusions, jokes which don’t translate very well into foreign languages.”

“Foreign affairs is not his be all and end all, whereas [Russia’s Foreign Minister] Sergey Lavrov is a very skilled diplomat,” McCauley said. Lavrov “will have an upper-hand here, because Boris in many ways is an amateur in foreign affairs.” However, he’s appears to be London’s only hope in at least trying to improve British-Russian relations, which “are at a very low ebb.”

Prime Minister Theresa May “is not really into foreign affairs, because she is so much embroiled in Brexit. In fact, the whole political establishment in Britain is concerned with Brexit and has very little time at present for foreign affairs,” he said.

To establish “a kind of common interest,” the Syrian issue might be helpful, the expert suggested. With Russia, Iran and Turkey being “the main players” in solving the crisis in that part of the world, Johnson should support Russia’s efforts in securing peace not only for the sake of the Syrians, but also for international security.

Moscow and London “have the same interests in dealing with international terrorism and the threat which will emanate from Syria when the jihadists go back to their home countries.” Both capitals are essentially “singing from the same songbook,” yet  Russia is “a dominant partner,” he pointed out.

Political writer and journalist, Dan Glazebrook, agrees that “Syria will indeed [be] a major topic” during Johnson’s visit to Russia. Saying that he regards the British politician as “a pragmatist” with no principles, he said, “The UK holds very few cards on Syria given that its proxies have been largely defeated on the battlefield. All the UK really has to offer is the toning down of its hysterical anti-Russian propaganda campaign. But I suspect Russia couldn’t really care less about that. Dogs bark, but life goes on, as they say.”