A day after the United States and Russia clashed in a remarkably hostile open session of the UN Security Council, the two nations’ top diplomats will consult on Tuesday and resume private diplomatic talks aimed at defusing tensions in Eastern Europe.
Leaders of Britain and Poland visit Ukraine on Tuesday in a show of solidarity as Europe seeks to present a united front in the crisis.
“Our part of Europe is not experiencing earthquakes or volcanic eruptions,” said Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki of Poland said in Kiev. “So when we live close to a neighbor like Russia, it feels like we’re living at the base of a volcano.”
But even during that meeting, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban traveled to Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir V. Putin – a move that has drawn bitter criticism from other members of the European Union, who see Mr Orban’s attempt to a to cultivate close ties with Moscow in a moment of crisis as an act of provocation.
US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken is expected to speak on the phone with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, but acrimonious exchanges between the two nuclear powers at the United Nations on Monday highlighted a major rift that needs to be bridged.
The United States said the more than 130,000 Russian troops massed in northern, eastern and southern Ukraine posed the greatest threat to European security since the end of World War II.
“They are trying, without any factual basis, to paint Ukraine and Western countries as aggressors to invent a pretext for an attack,” said Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US Ambassador to the United Nations.
Russia accused America of warmongering and noted that all Moscow forces were on Russian soil and in Belarus at the government’s invitation. But Vassily Nebenzia, the Russian ambassador, did not hide the Kremlin’s contempt for the popularly elected government in Kiev, calling them “nationalists, radicals, Russophobes and pure Nazis”.
Despite the theatrics reminiscent of Cold War confrontations of previous decades, President Biden said Monday that the United States would “continue to engage in diplomacy” and “try like hell to protect security for our allies and partners and for all of Europe.” to improve”.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was to deliver a similar message from Kiev. But he will also be carrying the baggage of a scandal at home that threatens his hold on power after a long-awaited report on whether Downing Street broke pandemic lockdown rules was cited by Mr Johnson’s government as a “failure of leadership and judgment”. .
Mr Johnson was due to be accompanied by his Secretary of State, Liz Truss, but she said on Monday night that she had tested positive for the coronavirus.
Mr. Morawiecki from Poland has sworn what to confront he called “Russian neo-imperialism”. Poland recently authorized the shipment of “defense weapons” to Ukraine, and the Polish government has long rallied domestic support by claiming it is working to eradicate communists – “red spiders” in their terminology – from the nation’s legal system.
But Polish leaders have come under fire for attending a gathering of far-right parties in Madrid over the weekend, many of which are considered deeply sympathetic or outspokenly supportive of the Kremlin. And Warsaw’s domestic agenda mirrors Moscow’s in portraying gays and lesbians as a threat to civilization and putting itself at the forefront of defending “traditional values”.
Poland and Hungary are followers in this respect. However, while the Polish government has consistently taken a hostile stance towards Russia, Mr Orban has publicly expressed his admiration for Mr Putin.