October 18, 2016 / 11:47 AM / 9 months ago

Britain must take lead on keeping sanctions on Russia - foreign minister

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Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson waits to greet guests ahead of a meeting, attended by US Secretary of State John Kerry, at Lancaster House, in London, Britain October 16, 2016.Justin Tallis/Pool

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain should lead the way in keeping sanctions on Russia over Moscow's action in Syria and Ukraine, foreign minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday, adding that it could not be "business as usual".

"Of course it is right that the UK and the Russian Federation should continue to cooperate and to engage in all the areas where we have common interests," he told parliament.

"But in view of the ruthless and brutal behaviour of the Russians in Ukraine and in Syria ... it is right that the UK should be in the lead in keeping the pressure on sanctions and it cannot be business as usual with Russia."

The European Union and the United States slapped sanctions on Russian banks and individuals close to President Vladimir Putin in 2014 after Moscow's actions in Ukraine.

Reporting by William James, Editing by Elizabeth Piper

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