Boris Johnson has postponed a conciliatory trip to Moscow in order to attend a rearranged meeting with Nato foreign ministers on Friday.

Mr Johnson was due to become the first British foreign secretary to visit Russia in five years, in an attempt to address differences on issues such as Syria and Ukraine.

However, Nato’s biannual meeting of foreign ministers has been brought forward to fit the schedule of Rex Tillerson, the US secretary of state.

One person familiar with events said that Mr Johnson’s decision was unrelated to protests in Moscow on Sunday, and that his trip would be rearranged.

An FCO spokesman said: “We have unfortunately had to postpone the Foreign Secretary’s visit to Russia planned this month due to rescheduling of the NATO Foreign Ministers meeting. The Foreign Secretary has spoken to Foreign Minister Lavrov, and looks forward to reinstating his visit as soon as possible.”

In a Sunday Times interview this week, Mr Johnson played down expectations of any visit, saying:

I wouldn’t say I’m bursting with optimism. Virtually every foreign secretary, every prime minister, every president begins hoping there can be a reset with Russia. It has proved disappointing every time. I have no real grounds for thinking this will be any different.

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