Prime Minister John Key is unlikely to raise the jailing of members of the punk rock band Pussy Riot when he meets Russian president Vladimir Putin tonight.

My Key said he only had half-an-hour with the president and half that time would be taken up with issues Russia wanted to raise about its relationship with New Zealand.

Mr Key said New Zealand's 15 minutes was likely to be consumed with assessing Russia' s willingness to complete negotiations for a free trade agreement between the two countries, along with lobbying the Russians to be more flexible when it comes to United Nations efforts to end the civil war in Syria.

He said New Zealand's concern about the Pussy Riot sentences and wider questions of civil and political rights in Russia had been raised by New Zealand's ambassador in Moscow, Ian Hill, along with Foreign Minister Murrray McCully.

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"We always raise those issues in the appropriate ways and through the appropriate channels.

"Our position has been registered. I would have thought given the short of time we have got, we would want to maximize that bilateral deal and get a sense of Syria."

Mr Key added that he would not be lecturing Mr Putin about Syria.