30 November 2023,   15:00
Russian and British foreign ministers exchange barbs after frosty Moscow meeting - FT

Russia’s foreign minister has described a two-hour meeting in Moscow with his British counterpart as “disappointing” and “a dialogue of a mute person with a deaf person”, as European countries engage in a diplomatic push to prevent another Russian attack on Ukraine’s territory, writes Financial Times.

Speaking to the press on Thursday, Sergei Lavrov said Liz Truss’s delegation had come “unprepared”, as he reiterated that the Russian military build-up around Ukraine posed no threat, and that Moscow’s security demands in Europe had been ignored. Meanwhile Truss demanded Russia withdraw the more than 100,000 troops massed on the border with Ukraine.

Truss’s visit is the first by a UK foreign secretary to Russia in more than four years.

“I am disappointed that our conversation was the dialogue of a mute person with a deaf person”, - Lavrov said. “We appear to listen to each other, but we do not hear each other”.

He characterised the closed-door talks as combative and ineffectual and Russian-British relations as being “at their lowest point for many, many years”.

Truss said: “I certainly wasn’t mute in our discussions earlier. I put forward the UK’s point of view on the current situation as well as seeking to deter Russia from an invasion of Ukraine”.

She disputed Moscow’s argument that NATO’s eastward expansion in the past two decades posed a threat to Russia. “No one is undermining Russia’s security. That is simply not true”, - Truss said.

She instead pointed to the threat to Ukraine posed by Russia, which annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014, fuelled a proxy war in the country’s far eastern Donbas region, and has now massed troops and military equipment along Ukraine’s eastern flank. Truss’s visit coincided with the start of large-scale Russian-Belarusian military exercises in neighbouring Belarus.