Russia: Liz Truss was repeating ‘slogans’ says Andrey Kelin
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The pair met to discuss solutions to the ongoing tensions between Russia and Ukraine but the UK Secretary was upbraided by Mr Lavrov who accused her of refusing to listen in a joint press conference after their meeting.
Mr Lavrov said: “I’m honestly disappointed that what we have is a conversation between a mute person and a deaf person.
“Our most detailed explanations fell on unprepared soil numerous facts that we produced bounced off the British delegation.”
Ms Truss tried to counterblast: “I certainly wasn’t mute in our discussions.”
The UK Foreign Secretary, who warned of tough Western sanctions if Ukraine was attacked, challenged Mr Lavrov over his assertion that Russia’s build-up of troops and weaponry was not threatening anyone.
“I can’t see any other reason for having 100,000 troops stationed on the border, apart from to threaten Ukraine. And if Russia is serious about diplomacy, they need to remove those troops and desist from the threats,” she said.
Mr Lavrov said Moscow favoured diplomacy to resolve the crisis.
Ms Truss’s talks in Moscow follow shuttle diplomacy from French President Emmanuel Macron, who visited Moscow and Kiev this week. In contrast to US and British leaders, Mr Macron has played down the likelihood of a Russian invasion soon.
As part of US efforts to “reduce chances of miscalculation”, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, spoke on Thursday with his Belarusian counterpart, a Pentagon spokesman said.
Urging de-escalation, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Germany and its allies were ready for dialogue with Moscow and wanted peace.
However further military aggression against Ukraine “would have very serious political, economic and strategic consequences for Russia,” Mr Scholz told reporters in Berlin.
Moscow has used the tensions to seek security concessions from the West that would include a promise never to admit Ukraine to NATO and halt the military alliance’s expansion.
The EU said on Thursday it had delivered a single letter in response to Russia’s proposals on European security, NATO and the United States having earlier portrayed Russia’s main demands as non-starters.
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Mr Stoltenberg said last week that Russia was expected to have 30,000 troops in Belarus as well SU-35 fighter jets, S-400 air defence systems and nuclear-capable Iskander missiles.
Russia held a briefing for military attachés that lasted just eight minutes, and gave notice of an exercise that was already underway, a senior US State Department official said.
“That’s highly inconsistent with agreements for transparency for large military exercises in Europe. That’s bad news,” the official said.
Ukraine launched its own war games on Thursday which, like Russia’s joint drills with Minsk, will run until February 20.
The Ukrainian forces, whose numbers have not been disclosed, are set to use Bayraktar drones and anti-tank Javelin and NLAW missiles provided by foreign partners. Kiev was due to receive a further shipment of US military aid later on Thursday.
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