Lavrov, largely echoing Putin’s remarks, said after the call that Moscow wanted “an honest conversation” with the U.S. on the principle that states can’t strengthen their security by infringing on the security of others.
The discussion following Monday’s fractious United Nations showdown came as part of a day of high-level diplomacy between Moscow and the West in a continued effort to ward off a potential Russian invasion of its neighbor.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy after flying to the country’s capital, Kyiv.
Johnson said the U.K. stood “shoulder to shoulder” with Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression, according to a statement from the prime minister’s office released after the meeting.
“The leaders warned that any further Russian incursion in Ukraine would be a massive strategic mistake and have a stark humanitarian cost,” the statement said.
The U.K., Poland and Ukraine are preparing a trilateral pact to strengthen regional security, Kyiv said on Tuesday.
Putin is also in talks with France for a face-to-face meeting with President Emmanuel Macron after their call Monday night.
That comes after Monday’s heated debate at the U.N. Security Council in New York saw the Russian representative forcefully deny that the Kremlin is planning another invasion of Ukraine.
The unusually acrimonious session saw Russia accuse the West of “whipping up tensions” and helping bring “pure Nazis” to power in Ukraine — a reference to the country’s toppling of its pro-Russia leader in 2014 and voting in a more Western-centric replacement.
U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield countered, accusing Russia of “attempting, without any factual basis, to paint Ukraine and Western countries as the aggressors to fabricate a pretext for attack.”
The U.S. and its allies believe Putin may be planning a follow-up to the invasion and annexation of Crimea in 2014, when Russia also started supporting separatists in Ukraine’s east. That triggered a war that has simmered ever since and claimed some 14,000 lives.
As the latest shipment of U.S. aid arrived in Kyiv early Tuesday, the U.S. Embassy said on Twitter that Washington prefers diplomacy but will “continue to provide Ukraine the defensive assistance needed to defend against Russia’s massive military force.”
On Monday the U.S. ordered families of American diplomats to leave neighboring Belarus, where Russia has sent tanks and troops for what it says are military exercises. That follows a similar move in Ukraine.
Kyiv criticized that decision and has consistently played down the threat of an imminent Russian invasion even as its allies sound the alarm.
Nevertheless, on Tuesday Zelenskyy signed a decree raising the number of his armed forces by 100,000 over the next three years and boosting soldiers’ pay.
He said this did not mean war with Russia was imminent, and urged lawmakers to stay calm and avoid panic.