Lavrov, Blinken speak briefly at G20 sidelines since Ukraine war
Blinken urges Russia to resume its participation in the New START Treaty and presses for ex-marine Paul Whelan's release.
The United States and Russia met in their highest face-to-face contact since the start of the Ukraine war last year on the sidelines of a G20 meeting that ended in disarray due to divisions over the conflict.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke briefly at the meeting of the world's top diplomats in New Delhi, which failed to reach a joint final declaration after objections from Moscow and Beijing.
Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova indicated that Blinken requested a meeting with Lavrov and the two had a brief conversation afterward.
Earlier, Zakharova clarified that it was obvious that there would be no official meeting between the two top diplomats in New Delhi.
"Was there any doubt about this (the fact that there was no meeting between Lavrov and Blinken)? I think the US position has been clear for a long time. They support the escalation of conflicts basically all over the world; diplomacy, unfortunately, they have apparently sidelined," the Russian Spokesperson said.
"At this point, the question is why? Because they lack or do not believe in it, or simply because destruction is part of the logic of US foreign policy in general," Zakharova told reporters.
Blinken reaffirmed Washington's commitment to protecting its ally Ukraine in order to "disabuse the Russians of any notion that our support might be wavering," a US official said on condition of anonymity.
The Washington Post cited a senior State Department as saying that Blinken stressed Washington’s support for a peaceful resolution to the war in Ukraine.
"He [Blinken] stressed that Ukraine and the United States want this war to end on that basis … but what has been missing is a similar determination from Moscow," said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
It is noteworthy that the last time Blinken and Lavrov were in the same room was at a G20 meeting in Bali last July.
Until Thursday, there had been no high-level face-to-face contact between the US and Russian governments since the start of the Ukraine war in February 2022, with Washington firmly backing Kiev and spearheading international efforts to isolate Russia.
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Blinken urged Russia to resume participation in New START Treaty
In the same context, The New York Times also cited US officials as saying that during his brief conversation with Lavrov, the US Secretary of State urged Russia to resume its participation in the New START Treaty and pressed for ex-marine Paul Whelan's release.
Blinken also reaffirmed that the United States would continue to support Ukraine "for as long as it takes," the report said, citing US officials.
According to the US officials, the conversation lasted about 10 minutes.
No joint statement
Thursday's G20 meeting drew to a close without a joint statement -- the second such meeting of the bloc to fail to reach an accord in as many weeks.
Lavrov told the assembled foreign ministers that Western representatives had derailed the meeting in an effort to scapegoat Russia for their own failings, disrespecting efforts by the Indian hosts to reach an agreement on other issues.
"I want to apologize to the Indian presidency and to our colleagues from countries of the global South for the obscene behavior of some Western delegations, which have turned the G20's agenda into a farce," Lavrov said, as per to Russian news agency TASS.
Discussions over the joint statement faltered on several issues, including Russia's insistence on an investigation into the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipeline last year, Lavrov told reporters through an interpreter. Russia and Western countries have traded accusations of responsibility for the September 2022 explosions.
China and Russia were the only G20 members at the conclusion of the meeting not to agree to the statement demanding Russia's "complete and unconditional withdrawal" from Ukraine.
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