Russia’s foreign minister described his UK counterpart, Liz Truss, as “deaf” and “selfish”, it has emerged.
Sergei Lavrov made the comments after Truss spoke to him in Moscow about the crisis at Ukraine’s border.
The British foreign secretary claimed the UK wants to offer a “path of diplomacy” to avoid a serious conflict, and rejected Kremlin’s claims that it is not planning on invading Ukraine.
‘It’s like they are listening to us but not hearing’
“I can’t see any other reason for 100,000 troops stationed on the Ukrainian border apart from threatening Ukraine,” she said, adding: “if Russia is serious about diplomacy, they need to remove those troops and desist from the threats.”
She added: “Fundamentally a war in Ukraine will be disastrous for the Russian and Ukrainian people for European security.”
But Lavrov said speaking to Truss was like a mute person talking to a deaf one.
“It’s like they’re listening to us but not hearing,” he said, adding: “We appear to be listening but we’re not hearing anything.”
But Truss defended herself, saying she “certainly wasn’t mute” during her discussions with Lavrov, and arguing she presented the UK’s point of view whilst trying to de-escalate the situation.
Russia hits out at western politicians before trapping Truss with question
Lavrov seemed to suggest the opposite – saying it was Truss who was unresponsive to Russia’s points of view and labelling western politicians as “indoctrinated” and “selfish”.
Truss has warned Lavrov earlier today that there would be Western sanctions if Ukraine was attacked, highlighting “severe” costs – but Lavrov labelled her threats as “morality levtures” whilst complaining about her not listening to Russia’s security concerns about NATO.
He then went on to ask trap Truss by asking if she recognises Russia’s sovereignty over Rostov and Voronezh.
But upon saying she would “never” recognise it, the UK ambassador told her the regions are Russia’s, not Ukraine’s.
Meanwhile, prime minister Boris Johnson warned the crisis at Ukraine’s border has reached “the most dangerous moment” and said intelligence on Rusian military in the area is still “grim”.
But he said the UK and Poland won’t “accept a world in which a powerful neighbour can bully or attack their neighbours.”
Speaking on a trip to Warsaw, Johnson said: “We need to work together now to achieve de-escalation, to persuade Vladimir Putin to de-escalate and to disengage.
‘Autocratic’ push by UK to sanction Russia, Labour says
Today, the UK government seemed to push for legislation sanctioning Russia without a democratic vote by elected politicians.
Foreign Office minister James Cleverly said the new sanctions would be enforced today, but opposition MPs criticised the lack of time to properly scrutinise the measures.
Labour MP Chris Byrant said the move was “autocratic”, and suggested it was late.
“It’s completely autocratic for government to publish legislation without any opportunity for anybody to scrutinise it, and frankly they have just been lazy. We’re Johnny-come-latelies when it comes to sanctions in this area,” he said.
Related: Russia gathered at least 70 per cent of troops needed for full-invasion, US says