Russia confirms British foreign minister could visit Moscow

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MOSCOW, Jan 23 (Reuters) - British foreign minister Liz Truss could visit Moscow under plans being examined by authorities, a Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman said on Sunday, according to TASS news agency, at a time of high tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine.

"Such a query was received from the British side, the possibility of such a visit is being considered," Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian ministry, was quoted as saying by TASS, without giving a possible timeframe for the trip.

The comments came after the RIA news agency reported on Saturday that Truss was expected to visit Moscow in February for talks with her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, citing a diplomatic source.

Russia has massed tens of thousands of troops on its borders with Ukraine, and Western states fear Moscow is planning a new assault on a country it invaded in 2014. Moscow denies planning an attack but says it could take unspecified military action unless a list of demands are met, including a promise from NATO never to admit Kyiv.

A senior UK minister said on Sunday that Russia would face severe economic sanctions if it installs a puppet regime in Ukraine, after Britain accused the Kremlin of seeking to install a pro-Russian leader there.

The visit of a head of the Foreign Office to Moscow would be the first since Boris Johnson, now the UK Prime Minister, travelled to the Russian capital in December 2017. A senior British defence ministry source said on Saturday that Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu had also agreed to talks in Moscow with his British counterpart Ben Wallace. (Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Pravin Char)