Will UK-Russia relations improve under Theresa May?
Prime Minister signals she will adopt a different approach to David Cameron after speaking to Vladimir Putin
Theresa May has signalled a thaw in UK-Russia relations under her leadership, following her first telephone conversation with President Vladimir Putin since she became Prime Minister.
Diplomatic ties between the two countries have been strained since the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and subsequent UK-led sanctions.
Tensions were further inflamed after the Alexander Litvinenko inquiry in January, when it was ruled that the murder of the former Russian spy in London was likely to have been approved by the Russian leader.
"The report left Putin with radioactive fingermarks glowing all over his collar and May [then home secretary] with the giant headache of trying to sound tough with the Russian president, when everyone knows the British government is terrified of upsetting him," The Guardian's John Crace wrote at the time.
Speaking yesterday, May and Putin expressed their mutual dissatisfaction at the current state of bilateral relations and vowed to improve ties in order to cooperate on the global fight against terrorism.
"[They] agreed that British and Russian citizens faced common threats, and that cooperation on aviation security in particular was a vital part of the counter-terrorism effort," a Downing Street spokeswoman said.
The pair "looked forward" to meeting each other at the G20 summit in China next month, she added.
The Kremlin issued a similar statement, promising to "invigorate joint work" in a number of areas. It also confirmed that the UK had agreed to take part in the 75th anniversary of the first arrival of wartime aid by British convoys to the Russian city of Arkhangelsk later this month.
The Guardian says the discussion shows May is "keen to demonstrate that the UK remains outward looking" and will continue to play a vital role in global democracy, despite voting to leave the EU.
Her position appears to be in stark contrast to that of her predecessor David Cameron, says Sky News's Sophy Ridge. "Cameron's relationship with Putin was prickly at best, poisonous at worst," she says.
"How to deal with Russia is one of the most pressing and difficult foreign policy concerns for May."