But the FT says Moscow wants something in return for its flattering reception – for the foreign secretary to end sanctions imposed by the Labour government four years ago after the murder in London in 2006 of Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB officer.
The previous British government judged that Mr Litvinenko was murdered by polonium poisoning and it was suggested the behest of the Russian state.In October last year Labour's then Foreign Secretary David Milliband went to Moscow amid hopes that that, the first official visit by a British foreign secretary to Moscow in five years, could put relations back on an even keel.
That visit came to nothing.
“For President Medvedev to receive a foreign minister is a very rare honour indeed,” a senior Russian official told the Financial Times, suggesting such encounters only take place when Hillary Clinton, US secretary of state, visits Moscow.
“It is a unique opportunity which we believe should be used wisely to set a constructive bilateral agenda for our two countries.”
However, British officials told the FT on Friday it was highly unlikely that Mr Hague would make any of the concessions Moscow is seeking.
Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service is demanding the extradition of Andrei Lugovoi, a former KGB officer, whom it wishes to charge over the murder. Russia refuses to extradite him, saying such a move would be against its constitution.
“I don’t think you’ll see any move on the Litvinenko-related issues,” a spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said. “The more promising areas of progress next week will be in the broader relationship, such as trade.”
European diplomats in Moscow were amazed at Britain's insistence under the Labour government to press for Mr. Lugovoi's extradition when Germany, Mexico, Colombia, and Israel are among a number of coutries who refuse to extradite their own nationals.
British authorities have refused to take up Russia's offer of British participation of a trial for Mr. Lugovoi, now a Federal lawmaker, in Russia which infers lifting Mr. Lugovoi's parliamentary immunity.
Russia is looking to Mr Hague to compromise on other sanctions imposed by Britain after the Litvinenko murder. It wants Britain to reverse heavy visa restrictions on Russian officials visiting London. It also wants Britain to restart co-operation on counter-terrorism issues. The FSB is unable to visit the UK for events related to counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism,” said the official.
If Mr Hague were to agree, Russia could reverse a decision it took in 2007 to close down the offices of the British Council, the UK cultural arm, in Russian cities under a new agreement legitimising their presence.
Meanwhile, Eric Krause, the respected financial commentator writing in his Truth & Beauty Russian investment newsletter issued on Saturday wrote,"relations with the UK had reached a low ebb following Russia’s refusal to extradite Alexander Lugovoi, wanted by London in the investigation of the poisoning death of Russian former spy Litvinenko. Moscow refused the extradition, arguing that not only was it unconstitutional for it to extradite a Russian citizen, but also, as confirmed by American investigative journalist Ed Epstein, the dossier sent by London was virtually empty – in particular lacking the vital toxicology and the autopsy reports, or indeed, any concrete evidence suggesting Lugovoi’s guilt or even his involvement".
A view reflected in a BSR opinion piece I wrote in June last year - The Litvinenko Affair: Could Andrei Lugovoi be innocent?