Responding to suggestions that Mr Johnson will play hard ball when he meets his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, the ambassador said: “Of course, the Foreign Secretary’s visit comes at a time when our official bilateral relationship is at the lowest point after the Cold War.
“We don’t need a cosy relationship with Britain, just the one based on mutual respect and national interest. The rhetoric does matter but without a positive agenda it becomes an end in itself.”
Mr Yakovenko said it was up to the British Government to determine how to proceed in its relations with Russia.
He added: “It is going to be the first working visit at foreign ministers’ level in our bilateral relations over the past three years.
“We hope that it means that our British partners are interested in resumption of political dialogue.
“Personally I think it’s either ‘engage’ or ‘beware’. Russia is just emerging from a painful period of transition,” he said. “It includes the state of our military. Russia poses a threat to no one, including the Baltic States.”
Responding to claims that Mr Johnson will use the meeting to urge Russia to “keep its nose” out of Western democratic processes, specifically the German elections in September, Mr Yakovenko said any evidence Russia had been involved in hacking should be brought into the public domain.
Responding to the allegations, the ambassador said: “I think the British people deserve better than the present official and media propaganda campaign.
“At least, it should be toned down. And whatever evidence there is to support accusations against Russia, it should be made public.
“It sounds ridiculous that Russia could influence the Western nations’ domestic affairs. Certainly, we have our views to air on various issues of public interest.”
Mr Johnson will be the first Foreign Secretary to visit Russia in half a decade. The Foreign Office has insisted that Mr Johnson will be “robust” in defending existing British policy.