Blinken and Lavrov meet on G-20 sidelines in first meeting between top diplomats since Ukraine war began

NEW DELHI — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov chatted briefly on the sidelines of a Group of 20 meeting in India on Thursday, the first meeting between the top diplomats since Russia invaded Ukraine.

Their encounter involved less than 10 minutes of discussion, a senior State Department official said in a background call with reporters.

Blinken urged Russia to reverse Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to suspend New START, a key nuclear arms control treaty between the world’s two largest nuclear powers. Blinken noted that the treaty is in the interest of both countries as well as international security and that the world expects the nations to behave responsibly when it comes to nuclear security.

Blinken also reiterated the need for the Kremlin to release detained U.S. citizen Paul Whelan. He noted that the U.S. had put a proposal on the table and said they should accept it. 

Additionally, Blinken underscored continued support for Ukraine from the United States, including his proposals for a just and durable peace that respects the United Nations Charter and the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, the official said. Blinken stressed that Ukraine and the U.S. want Russia’s war to end on that basis, but that a similar determination from Moscow continues to be missing.

Blinken made clear that decisions regarding Ukraine were left up to Kyiv and emphasized that he and his team are committed to conveying and standing up for U.S. interests through the appropriate channels, which must remain open.

Maria Zakharova, a spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry, told the state-run news agency RIA Novosti that Blinken had asked to make contact with Lavrov, and they spoke “on the go” during the second session of the G-20, but there were no negotiations.

Blinken and Lavrov’s last in-person meeting was in January of last year in Geneva. Their last phone call occurred in July of last year when they discussed the proposal for the release of Whelan and WNBA star Brittney Griner.

Abigail Williams reported from New Delhi. Summer Concepcion reported from New York.

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