One day after the United States and Russia clashed in a remarkably hostile open session of the U.N. Security Council, the top diplomats from the two nations will confer on Tuesday, resuming private diplomatic negotiations aimed at defusing tensions in Eastern Europe.
The leaders of Britain and Poland are scheduled to visit Ukraine on Tuesday, a show of solidarity as Europe seeks to present a united front in the crisis. Yet even as that meeting is taking place, Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary will travel to Moscow to meet with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia — a move that has prompted bitter recriminations from other European Union members that view Mr. Orban’s attempt to cultivate a close relationship with Moscow at a moment of crisis as an act of provocation.
The U.S. secretary of state, Antony J. Blinken, is expected to speak by telephone with Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, but the bitter exchanges between the two nuclear powers at the United Nations on Monday highlighted a vast chasm that needs to be bridged.
The United States said the more than 130,000 Russian troops amassed to Ukraine’s north, east and south represented the greatest threat to European security since the end of World War II.
“They are attempting, without any factual basis, to paint Ukraine and Western countries as the aggressors to fabricate a pretext for attack,” said Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the United States ambassador to the United Nations.
Russia responded by accusing America of warmongering, noting that all of Moscow’s forces were on Russian soil and in Belarus by invitation of the government. But Vassily Nebenzia, the Russian ambassador, did not hide the Kremlin’s disdain for the popularly elected government in Kyiv, calling them “nationalists, radicals, Russophobes and pure Nazis.”
Despite theatrics reminiscent of Cold War confrontations of decades past, President Biden said on Monday that the United States would “engage in nonstop diplomacy” and “attempt like the devil to improve security for our allies and partners and for all of Europe.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain was expected to deliver a similar message when he lands in Kyiv. But he will also carry the baggage of a scandal at home that threatens his grip on power after a long-awaited report on whether Downing Street flouted pandemic lockdown rules cited “failures of leadership and judgment’’ by Mr. Johnson’s government.
Mr. Johnson was supposed to be accompanied by his foreign secretary, Liz Truss, but she said on Monday night that she had tested positive for the coronavirus.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki of Poland is also expected in Kyiv on Tuesday to confront what he called “Russian neo-imperialism.”
Poland recently approved sending “defensive weapons” to Ukraine, and the Polish government has long rallied domestic support by claiming that it is working to root out communists — “red spiders,” in their terminology — from the nation’s legal system.
But leaders of the Polish government came under criticism for attending a gathering of far-right parties in Madrid over the weekend, since many of those groups are considered deeply sympathetic to or outright supportive of the Kremlin. And Warsaw’s domestic agenda echoes Moscow’s in casting gays and lesbians as a threat to civilization and positioning itself on the vanguard of defending “traditional values.”
In that regard, Poland and Hungary are fellow travelers. However, whereas the Polish government has continuously taken a hostile attitude toward Russia, Mr. Orban has been public in his admiration of Mr. Putin.
His visit to Moscow will be the 11th time the two leaders have met. After Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, Mr. Orban staged a similar visit, leading to accusations that he was essentially a Russian Trojan horse within the European Union.
Mr. Orban, who faces elections this spring, hopes to secure a deal to increase the nation’s annual gas supply from Russia.
“Obviously, we cannot avoid talking about the security situation in Europe, where Hungary’s position is completely clear,” Mr. Orban said in a radio interview before his visit. “We are interested in peace.”