British foreign secretary Boris Johnson says any attempt by Russia to destabilise Ukraine will be met with a swift and unequivocal response.
He met Russia’s acting foreign minister Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.
Last week UK intelligence agencies accused Russia of trying to influence the result of the Ukrainian election by hacking and distributing personal information to social media and then distributing that on spoof websites.
The UK’s secretary of state for defence, Gavin Williamson, met with his Russian counterpart Vyacheslav Kozhin over dinner at the UN, and said: “I think there has been a desire to try and change the outcome of the election in Ukraine.
“We absolutely don’t recognise it, but if this is something that is being used to create instability in your country and change the result of the election, then that is totally unacceptable.”
The two ministers are also expected to discuss Syria in the wake of Turkey’s recent successful offensive to take control of the northern Syrian city of Afrin from Kurdish militia.
Facing criticism over his opposition to airstrikes against Syria and a failure to actively pursue Russian aggression, Johnson has this week sought to play down differences with the US, while expressing desire to maintain good relations with Moscow.
Speaking alongside his Russian counterpart, he said it was important to keep talking in the wake of meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who called him personally to tell him there could be no freeze-out in relations with Russia.
“What is necessary is to carry on talking to Russia about the issues that are in common between us. The world needs Russia because it’s the biggest global power.
“You can’t speak of anything you want to do internationally, anywhere, without understanding and dealing with Russia.
“And so whatever we do, we need to manage the sensitivities that exist as well.
“Having said that, I can’t ever discount the possibility that there will be a moment when the interests of the British people and our allies and interests align and there will be a warmer and stronger relationship with Russia.”