MOSCOW — The Western diplomatic push to defuse the Ukraine crisis ground on in Moscow on Thursday with dim prospects of success, as Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov of Russia dismissed criticism of his country’s conduct as farcical and a meeting with his British counterpart as fruitless.
“I am honestly disappointed that we’re having the conversation of a mute person with a deaf person,” Mr. Lavrov said after meeting for two hours with Foreign Secretary Liz Truss of Britain. “It’s as though we are hearing each other, but not listening.”
A joint news conference by Mr. Lavrov and Ms. Truss after they met at a Russian Foreign Ministry villa in central Moscow offered a stark display of the clashing worldviews that have made the crisis over Ukraine appear nearly impossible to resolve.
While President Emmanuel Macron of France sought to strike a constructive tone after meeting on Monday with President Vladimir V. Putin for five hours in Moscow, little optimism emerged from Ms. Truss’s hastily scheduled visit.
Ms. Truss reiterated Western warnings that an invasion of Ukraine would result in “a prolonged and drawn-out conflict,” and said that Russia needed to pull back the 130,000 troops that U.S. officials estimated it had massed near Ukraine’s borders.
Mr. Lavrov countered by repeating the Russian government’s contention that it was not threatening anyone, and therefore had no reason to de-escalate.
“You first have to prove to me that we are the ones who created this tense situation,” Mr. Lavrov said, rejecting the idea of a Russian invasion. “The West is trying to make a tragedy out of this, while, increasingly, it’s similar to a comedy.”
Ms. Truss insisted that the facts of the Russian troop buildup — which continued on Thursday with the start of joint military exercises in allied Belarus, Ukraine’s northern neighbor — spoke for themselves. Her direct language was evidence of the relatively hard line that Britain has struck in the current crisis — declassifying intelligence alleging Russian plans for a coup, for example, and providing Ukraine with antitank weaponry.
“There is no doubt that the stationing of over 100,000 troops is directly put in place to threaten Ukraine,” said Ms. Truss, who was making the first visit to Moscow by a British foreign secretary in more than four years. “If Russia is serious about diplomacy, they need to move those troops.”
Ukraine’s government said planned Russian naval drills off Ukraine’s southern coast were “an abuse of international law” by the Kremlin “in order to achieve its own geopolitical goals’’ and it called on other countries to bar Russian ships from their ports.
Mr. Putin said Russia was preparing written responses in its back-and-forth with the United States and NATO, and added that he was planning to speak by phone again in the coming days with Mr. Macron.
Mr. Putin has kept the world guessing at his intentions, signaling that he is open to continued negotiations over his demands for a reshaping of Europe’s security architecture, while hinting at the prospect of an all-out war with the West.
But Mr. Lavrov said that any Russian threats to Ukraine were made up — a denial-of-reality approach that echoed Russia’s refusals to acknowledge its military backing for separatists in eastern Ukraine or its interference in the 2016 American elections. Mr. Lavrov even professed that Russia was so concerned about Western embassies drawing down their personnel in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, that Russia was planning to do so as well.
“We’ve started to think that maybe the Anglo-Saxons are preparing something,” Mr. Lavrov said, standing next to Ms. Truss. “If they are evacuating their employees, we will probably also recommend that nonessential personnel of our diplomatic establishments temporarily go home.”