US Secretary of State and Russian Foreign Minister Meet on Sidelines of G20 Meeting in India
On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov held a brief meeting on the sidelines of a Group of 20 foreign ministers meeting in India. This marks the first face-to-face contact the two counterparts have had since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
The meeting comes after Blinken had warned Lavrov of the consequences Moscow would face should it go ahead with launching its unprovoked offensive during their last face-to-face encounter in Geneva last January. During their brief meeting, Blinken reportedly urged Russia to reverse its decision to suspend cooperation in the New START nuclear arms treaty and accept a US proposal for the release of US citizen Paul Whelan.
Blinken also reaffirmed Washington's support for Ukraine’s peace proposal that maintains the country's territorial integrity. Lavrov, on the other hand, said that the West refused to include Russia's proposal on the need for an investigation of Nord Stream blasts in the G20 final declaration.
The US Secretary of State reportedly disabused Moscow of any idea that the United States’ support of Ukraine might be waning, and reiterated that the United States would provide military and economic assistance for “as long as it takes”. He also urged Russia to rejoin the New START nuclear arms control treaty that Russian President Vladimir Putin recently withdrew from.
During the G20 Foreign Ministers' Meeting (G20FMM) in New Delhi on Thursday, Lavrov had a meeting with China's Foreign Minister Qin Gang. Lavrov held a press conference where he blamed western nations for making ‘emotional statements’ and derailing the G20 agenda. He also came in support of China, which was criticized by the US and Germany for supplying weapons to Russia.
India, which holds the rotating chair of the G-20 this year, had hoped the war in Ukraine would not dominate proceedings at the meetings of the group's foreign ministers. However, the two countries' representatives had different plans.
Overall, the US and Russia discussed the need to end the war in Ukraine, the release of American Paul Whelan, and the resumption of the New START treaty. It remains to be seen whether the two countries will be able to come to an agreement on these issues and make progress towards peace.
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