Liz Truss has been accused by Russia’s ambassador to the UK of being “very belligerent” and of wanting to “prolong” the conflict in Ukraine.
Andrei Kelin said the foreign minister wanted to “ignite the conflict” by pushing for the West to continue supplying Kyiv in a position he said would be “not good for Ukraine”.
Ms Truss, during a visit to the Czech Republic on Friday, told Western allies they had to be “prepared for the long term” when it came to backing the Ukrainian resistance, not to “talk about a ceasefire”. fire or to appease Putin”.
She said: “We have to make sure Ukraine wins and Russia gets out and we will never see this kind of Russian aggression again.”
Mr Kelin said Ms Truss’ position showed London was not interested in ending the dispute, which Moscow sparked in February when it ordered an invasion of its neighbour.
Attempts to take the whole country were abandoned due to fierce Ukrainian defence, especially around the capital.
Kremlin forces have regrouped and since last month have instead focused their firepower on taking the Donbass region in the east where Russian-backed separatists have held out for eight years.
The Russian ambassador, speaking to the BBC Sunday morning show, said: “She is very belligerent, your foreign secretary, Liz Truss.
“She is neither a career soldier nor has she been in this position for a long time.
“But she is very belligerent. If she wants to continue the war, she will prolong the conflict.
“And it’s up to her of course to make that statement or do those deeds. But it won’t be good for Ukraine, it won’t be good for European peace and stability, and Europe itself. .
This is not the first time Kremlin figures have sought to discredit Ms Truss.
After talks in Moscow between the Cabinet Minister and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in February before the start of the invasion, the Foreign Minister called the meeting “a conversation between deaf and dumb”, saying Ms Truss was not did not listen to Russia’s position.
In a lengthy interview, Mr Kelin said British encouragement to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his troops would only delay a peace deal.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Mr Zelensky in a phone call on Saturday that the UK would “continue to support Ukraine’s heroic armed forces”, including by providing “the equipment they need”.
On the “stalemate” between Kyiv and Moscow over a ceasefire, Mr Kelin added: “And what we have from London is not the will to finalize it or negotiate it.
“We hear new calls every day to send more weapons to Ukraine, to fight to the last Ukrainian soldier, to continue the conflict. And no negotiation until Russia is defeated.
The diplomat said Russian troops were involved in a “limited operation” and not a war in eastern Ukraine.
He argued that Moscow had come to the aid of “two independent republics”, a reference to Kremlin-backed dissidents in Donetsk and Luhansk, important areas of the industrialized Donbass region, and that the advance was aimed at protecting the Russian people .
The official said Russian President Vladimir Putin would not use nuclear weapons in the conflict, saying there were “very strict” rules on their use, with nuclear missiles only allowed to be deployed “when the existence of the state is threatened”.
“It has nothing to do with the current operation,” he added.
The battle for Donbass has centered on Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk in recent weeks, with constant shelling focused on the last major areas under Ukrainian control in Lugansk province.
Ukrainian officials reported that Russian forces were “storming” the eastern town of Sievierodonetsk, where fighting cut off electricity and mobile phone services and terrorized civilians who did not flee.
Mr Zelensky, following a Sunday trip to Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, in a rare visit to the eastern frontline, described the situation in Donbass as “indescribably difficult”.
Ukrainian fighters pushed Russian forces back from their positions near the town several weeks ago, but it remains under fire.
Kyiv has warned the West that unless its troops are equipped with more advanced weaponry, it will not be able to stop the Russian advance.