Antony Blinken and Sergey Lavrov meet for the first time since the Ukraine war

  • Written by Barbara Plait Usher in Delhi and Nadine Youssef
  • BBC News

image source, Getty Images

photo caption,

Sergey Lavrov (left) and Antony Blinken (right) last met in Geneva in January 2022

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has asked his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, to “end this war of aggression” against Ukraine.

The remarks are the first Mr. Blinken has come face-to-face with Lavrov since Russia’s full-scale invasion began more than a year ago.

The two met briefly on the sidelines of the G20 summit in the Indian capital, Delhi, on Thursday.

Mr. Blinken also raised the case of Paul Whelan, an American being held in Russia.

A senior State Department official said the discussion in Delhi lasted less than 10 minutes — and they spoke “on the go,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said, downplaying the exchange.

I told the foreign minister [Sergei Lavrov] What I and many others said last week at the United Nations, and what many of the G20 foreign ministers said today — end this war of aggression, engage in meaningful diplomacy that can produce a just and lasting peace,” Mr. Blinken said in a briefing after the talks.

He said he had also urged Russia to join the New START nuclear arms control treaty, describing Moscow’s recent decision to suspend its participation in the pact as “irresponsible”.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova confirmed the meeting had taken place, but gave no further details.

Earlier on Thursday, Lavrov accused Western countries of trying to influence neutral countries to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“The West continues its attempts to push everyone and everything,” he said.

Lavrov didn’t say anything about an “elbow brush” with his American counterpart – but it was clearly not a diplomatic negotiation.

During the G20 meeting, he accused the West of encouraging Kiev to continue the war.

The failure of the foreign ministers to agree on a joint statement showed that differences over the war have intensified in the past year.

Mr. Blinken reportedly held talks with senior diplomats during the Delhi summit to drum up support for Ukraine.

He reiterated his condemnation of Russia before the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva later in the day, appearing via video link.

But he said Russian President Vladimir Putin “has not shown any interest in participating”.

The G20, which includes the 19 richest countries in the world plus the European Union, accounts for 85% of global economic output and two-thirds of its population.

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