WHENEVER any mention of Liz Truss comes up, a certain image comes to my mind’s eye.

No, it’s not the cheese, pork and apples speech, haunting as it is. Rather, it’s what best could be described as the equivalent, in diplomatic terms, of watching a lamb go to the slaughter.

I often think that if Truss has recurring nightmares about what it’s like to be in at the political deep end, then the events of a certain day back in February this year must surely have invoked her waking up in the middle of the night with a start and in a cold sweat.

I’m talking about the encounter between Truss, then British foreign secretary, and her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, a man who epitomises one of my late mother’s favourite old sayings about someone who is “not backward in coming forward”.

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As the account of that meeting goes, Lavrov asked Truss whether the UK accepted that two Russian regions – Voronezh and Rostov – belonged to Russia and that Moscow had the right to move troops and equipment to the areas.

According to the Russian daily business newspaper Kommersant, Truss replied that “​​the UK will never recognise Russian sovereignty over these regions”.

It was then left to the British ambassador in the meeting to quickly correct Truss, who commentators said most likely thought Lavrov was referring to Donetsk and Luhansk, the two breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian separatists and now a frontline in the war between Russia and Ukraine.

I thought it worth revisiting this little faux-pas by Truss just to put in perspective the dangers that lie ahead on the UK foreign policy front given her anointment this week by the Tory faithful to the highest office in the land.

It’s not news of course that Truss’s performance, short of hoodwinking her Tory colleagues that she is equipped for the job of Prime Minister, has been woeful on every level.

But – barely hours into the job – if the new PM is in any doubt as to what her old nemesis Lavrov and his Russian cronies have in store for her government, she need look no further than yesterday’s remarks by President Vladimir Putin at the Eastern Economic Forum in the Russian pacific city of Vladivostok.

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Insisting that Russia had gained, not lost, from the war in Ukraine, Putin said it was now embarking on a new sovereign path that would restore Russia’s global clout.

Scoffing at Western attempts to cap prices for Russian oil and gas, and calling the idea “stupid,” Putin said that Russia “will not supply anything at all if it is contrary to our interests, in this case economic interests ... no gas, no oil, no coal, no fuel oil, nothing”.

As for Truss herself, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it was “hard to imagine anything worse,” for UK-Russian relations than Truss becoming Prime Minister.

On that single point – a worsening of relations with the UK government – Scots at least are sure to have some empathy with Peskov, even while knowing that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has done more damage to international relations than just about any other action of recent years.

And so, the scene is now set for an even bigger showdown between the UK and Russia. That the UK is walking into that confrontation with Truss at the helm doesn’t bear thinking about.

This, after all, is a politician who only days before coming to office told the penultimate Tory leadership hustings that “the jury is still out” on whether the French president Emmanuel Macron was “friend or foe”.

Talk about how not to win friends and influence people on the international stage precisely when a show of solidarity is what’s needed in the face of Russian aggression in Ukraine.

That said though, as Ben Judah, the British-French journalist and senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Europe Centre, observed recently about Britain’s new PM, “It would be easy to make one of two mistakes about Truss: Either she doesn’t believe in anything, or she believes everything she’s saying at any one time”.

Instead says Judah, Truss is “a more complicated mix of chameleon politics over a solid framework of belief – especially on geopolitics”. At one and the same time she is hawkish on Russia and China and, as Judah warns in Foreign Policy magazine this week, has “a taste for even greater action on the world stage after being foreign secretary during a European war”.

In other words, batten down the hatches.

Come to think of it though, you don’t have to cast that far back to get a real understanding of where Truss as PM sees Britain’s foreign policy coming from and its likely future trajectory.

In a speech at Chatham House in London last year she spoke of the need for a “confident, outward-looking, patriotic and positive” country that rather than being “racked with shame” about its colonial past “should be proud again of what we are and what we stand for.”

If there are echoes of Margaret Thatcher here and a mindset straight out of the days of the Falklands War in 1982 then that should come as no surprise.

The terrifying problem with this though is that the world is an altogether very different place from those times during Britain’s small but bloody spat with Argentina.

In Europe the largest conventional military attack that’s been seen since World War II is underway with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine posing the biggest threat to peace and security since the end of the Cold War.

In continuing to respond the UK Government’s relationship with its allies, especially the US, remains crucial and there too might lie a problem with Truss.

There is a story that shortly after she was appointed foreign secretary, Truss met her US counterpart Antony Blinken for the first time last September and things were not exactly cordial after she questioned the much vaunted "special relationship" between the US and UK.

As one correspondent in the Financial Times summed it up more recently, Truss’s attitude was “what have you done for me lately,” and did not go down well with the Americans.

It was a conversation the correspondent said that was “emblematic of a style US officials described as blunt, binary and assertive”.

And there you have it, just what’s needed right now on an already volatile international stage, especially when combined with certain shortcomings on the understanding front.

Add to this the fact that James Cleverly is now in the Foreign Secretary role and it’s a pretty fair bet that Truss will struggle to make friends but easily make enemies on the world stage.