Live updates: news on the crisis in Russia and Ukraine

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Credit…Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

MOSCOW — The Western diplomatic push to defuse the Ukraine crisis continued in Moscow on Thursday with dim prospects of success, as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei V. Lavrov compared an urgent two-hour meeting with his British counterpart to that of a “mute person”. with a deaf person,” and dismissed warnings of an impending Russian invasion of Ukraine.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, making a hasty visit to Moscow, reiterated Western warnings that an invasion of Ukraine would lead to “a protracted and interminable conflict” and that Russia must withdraw the 130,000 troops that officials Americans believed. it had massed near the borders of the Ukraine.

Mr Lavrov countered by repeating the Russian government’s assertion that he was not threatening anyone and therefore had no reason to defuse.

“You have to prove to me first that it was us who created this tense situation,” Lavrov said, dismissing the idea of ​​a Russian invasion as bordering on farce. “The West is trying to make a tragedy out of it, while more and more it looks like a comedy.”

The joint press conference by senior British and Russian diplomats after their discussion at a Russian Foreign Ministry villa in central Moscow offered a stark display of the conflicting worldviews that have made the Ukraine crisis nearly impossible to resolve. While French President Emmanuel Macron sought to strike a constructive tone after meeting President Vladimir V. Putin for five hours in Moscow on Monday, little optimism emerged from Ms Truss’ visit.

“I’m honestly disappointed that we’re having a mute person’s conversation with a deaf person,” Lavrov said. “It’s as if we got along but we didn’t listen to each other.”

Despite the apparent stalemate, Western diplomatic efforts should continue. Russian, Ukrainian, German and French officials were due to meet in Berlin on Thursday in a recently revived four-party negotiation format centered on the conflict in eastern Ukraine, where the Kremlin backs pro-Russian separatists. Ben Wallace, the British Defense Minister, is expected to travel to Moscow this week to meet his Russian counterpart. And next week, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is due to travel to Moscow for talks with Mr Putin.

Ms Truss insisted that the facts of Russian troop build-up – which continued on Thursday with the start of joint military exercises in allied Belarus, Ukraine’s northern neighbor – spoke for themselves. His direct language was evidence of the relatively hard line Britain has taken in the current crisis – declassifying intelligence alleging Russian coup plans, for example, and supplying Ukraine with anti-tank weapons.

“There is no doubt that the stationing of more than 100,000 troops is directly put in place to threaten Ukraine,” said Ms Truss, who was on the first visit to Moscow by a British foreign minister in addition to four years. “If Russia is serious about diplomacy, it needs to move those troops.”

Credit…Russian Foreign Ministry, via Associated Press

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said during a visit to NATO headquarters in Brussels on Thursday that he did not believe Russia had made a decision on whether to launch an invasion. “But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible that something absolutely disastrous could happen very soon,” Mr Johnson said.

Mr Putin has let the world guess his intentions, signaling he is open to further negotiations on his demands to overhaul Europe’s security architecture, while hinting at the prospect of all-out war with the West.

But Mr Lavrov said all Russian threats against Ukraine were made up – a denial of reality approach that echoed Russia’s refusals to acknowledge its military support for separatists in eastern Ukraine or its interference in the 2016 U.S. election. Mr. Lavrov even professed that Russia was so concerned about Western embassies cutting staff in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv that Russia was planning to do so as well.

“We started to think maybe the Anglo-Saxons are up to something,” Mr Lavrov said, standing next to Ms Truss. “If they evacuate their employees, we will also likely recommend non-essential staff at our diplomatic establishments to temporarily return home.”

Mr Lavrov added that he had not heard anything from Ms Truss that British officials had not already said in public.

Christi C. Elwood