The prime minister will raise his concerns with the Russian president when Putin visits London next Thursday to see the judo at the Olympic Games.
Cameron made light of the Putin visit, his first to London since he embarked on the presidency again, when he spoke to the Global Investment Conference in London on Thursday.
Stressing that the main focus of their talks would be trade, the prime minister said: "We will be at the judo so it may be a bit off-putting. But nonetheless I know my major priority is to get those trade deals, to get that investment and not to concentrate on what is happening on the mat."
It is understood that Cameron will use the opportunity of his first meeting as prime minister in London with Putin to raise his concerns with the Russian president about his stance over Syria. Britain is angry that Russia has joined forces with China to veto a series of resolutions on the conflict.
Whitehall sources said Cameron, who raised Syria with Putin at the G20 summit in Mexico, would reiterate the message he delivered to Russia in Kabul last week. Speaking after the assassination of members of President Bashar al-Assad's inner circle in Damascus, the prime minister urged Russia to "step up to the plate" and stop vetoing UN sanctions against Assad.
Cameron said: "The message to President Putin and to all those on the UN security council is: it is time for the UN security council to pass clear and tough messages about sanctions – I believe under chapter seven of the UN – and to be unambiguous in this.
"Obviously we are a UN security council with permanent members and permanent members that have vetoes. We can't pass these things without everybody stepping up to the plate and taking the right action. But I would appeal to those who in the past have held out against tough action against Syria: what more evidence do we need about a regime that had brutalised its people?"
Cameron's reference to chapter 7 of the UN charter, which can be used to authorise the use of military force, was seen as significant. British sources stressed that Cameron was not paving the way for military intervention. He wants the new security council resolution to be covered by chapter 7 to give legal authority to non-military intervention.
Russia is wary of agreeing to a new UN security resolution on Syria because it believes Britain and France stretched the landmark resolution on Libya. This authorised military action to protect civilians. Moscow believes that London and Paris bent the law to use the security council to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi.
Cameron will also discuss other foreign policy issues and energy with Putin.
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