David Cameron and Vladimir Putin are to hold face-to-face talks this week amid deep tension between Britain and Russia over the crisis in Ukraine.
The meeting will take place in Normandy on Friday, when Mr Cameron and the Russian president attend commemorations to mark the 70th anniversary of the D-day landings.
Moscow reacted furiously last month when the Prince of Wales was reported to have likened Mr Putin to Adolf Hitler following Moscow’s annexation of Crimea.
Pro-Russian separatists continue to clash with government forces in eastern Ukraine. The violence follows the declaration of Petro Poroshenko as the winner of May’s presidential elections with around 55 per cent of the vote.
The Cameron-Putin talks will take place the day after G7 leaders gather in Brussels for a summit at which the turmoil in Ukraine will be high on the agenda.
The meeting was arranged after they decided to boycott a planned meeting of the G8, which includes Russia, in the Russian ski resort of Sochi.
Mr Cameron’s official spokesman said: “It is an important opportunity to set out the importance of a dialogue between the Russian government and the new Ukrainian government following the presidential elections.”
He dismissed suggestions the talks were an attempt to “make peace” with the Kremlin and said Britain remained deeply opposed to the annexation of Crimea.
Mr Cameron is also due to meet Mr Poroshenko at the week’s gathering of world leaders in Normandy.Reuse content