Russia says using the recent US strike on Syria as a pretext for cancelling a trip to Moscow by UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is absurd.
Johnson, who was due to visit Moscow on April 10, announced on Saturday that he cancelled the trip. "Developments in Syria have changed the situation fundamentally," he said in a statement.
US President Donald Trump ordered a military attack on a Syrian airbase in Homs province just a day after he accused President Bashar al-Assad for last week’s suspected chemical weapons attack, which killed at least 70 people in the town of Khan Shaykhun in Idlib province.
"My priority is now to continue contact with the US and others in the run-up to the G7 meeting on 10-11 April - to build coordinated international support for a ceasefire on the ground and an intensified political process," Johnson said.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova however said the visit was cancelled after it had been rescheduled. “The reasons named by the British side were different."
“We have an impression that our Western colleagues are living in their own reality, in which they are trying to unilaterally build collective plans and then unilaterally change them, making up absurd pretexts," Zakharova added.
She said Moscow "has always called for stable relations based on the international law," but according to her, “stability and consistency have long stopped to be the hallmark of Western foreign policy."
The visit on Moscow’s invitation would have been the first such trip by a British foreign minister in the last five years.
Since taking up the post in July, Johnson has publicly been criticizing Moscow and its foreign policy, particularly in regard with Ukraine and Syria. He also previously ruled out relaxing sanctions against Russia.
The West has imposed several rounds of sanctions against Russia, accusing Moscow of destabilizing Ukraine since Crimea decided to rejoin the Russian Federation in a referendum in March 2014.
Moscow however has strongly dismissed the accusations and rejects having a hand in the crisis gripping Ukraine.