This combination of photos shows U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, at the G-20 conference of foreign ministers in New Delhi, India, on Thursday.
NEW DELHI (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov talked briefly Thursday in the highest-level in-person talks between the two countries since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But there was no indication of any movement toward easing tensions between their two nations.
The short encounter came as relations between Washington and Moscow have plummeted over Russia’s war with Ukraine and tensions have soared amid a myriad of disagreements, complaints and recriminations on other matters ranging from arms control to embassy staffing and prisoners.
U.S. officials said Blinken and Lavrov chatted for roughly 10 minutes on the sidelines of the G-20 conference of foreign ministers in New Delhi. But there was no sign of any progress and the conference ended with the group unable to reach consensus on the Ukraine war.
Still, with relations at perhaps their lowest point since the Cuban Missile Crisis during the Cold War, the mere fact that the two men met showed that, at least for the moment, lines of high-level communication between Washington and Moscow remain open.
At a news conference, Blinken said he told Lavrov that the U.S. would continue to support Ukraine for as long as it takes and would push for the war to end through diplomatic terms that Kyiv agrees to.
“End this war of aggression, engage in meaningful diplomacy that can produce a just and durable peace,” Blinken said he had told Lavrov. But he noted that “President Putin has demonstrated zero interest in engaging, saying there’s nothing to even talk about unless and until Ukraine accepts and I quote ‘the new territorial reality.’ ”
“Mutual compliance is in the interest of both our countries,” Blinken said he told Lavrov. He added that “no matter what else is happening in the world, in our relationship, the United States is always ready to engage and act on strategic arms control, just as the United States and the Soviet Union did even at the height of the Cold War.”
Blinken said he also urged Moscow to release detained American Paul Whelan and that “the United States has put forward a serious proposal. Russia should take it.”
Earlier, Blinken told the G-20 meeting that Russia’s war with Ukraine could not go unchallenged.
“We must continue to call on Russia to end its war of aggression and withdraw from Ukraine for the sake of international peace and economic stability,” Blinken said. He noted that 141 countries had voted to condemn Russia at the United Nations on the one-year anniversary of the invasion.
Yet, several members of the G-20, including host India, China and South Africa, chose to abstain in that vote and despite appeals from top Indian officials to look beyond their differences over Ukraine and forge consensus on other issues, the foreign ministers were unable to do so or agree on a final communique.
Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said there were “divergences” on the issue of the war in Ukraine “which we could not reconcile as various parties held differing views.”
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed for all members of the fractured G-20 to reach consensus on issues of particular concern to poorer countries even if the broader East-West split over Ukraine could not be overcome.
“We should not allow issues that we cannot resolve together to come in the way of those we can,” Modi said.
China and Russia objected to two paragraphs taken from the previous G-20 declaration in Bali last year, according to a summary of Thursday’s meeting released by India. And Blinken lamented that “Russia and China were the only two countries that made clear that they would not sign off on the text.”
The paragraphs stated that the war in Ukraine was causing immense human suffering while exacerbating fragilities in the global economy, the need to uphold international law, and that “the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible.”
Despite the failure to achieve full consensus, Blinken said 18 of the 20 nations agreed on a statement calling for an end to the war and immediate steps to improve energy and food security.
Lavrov, who did not mention speaking with Blinken, told reporters that Moscow would continue to press its action in Ukraine. He said Russia remains open to talks on ending the conflict in Ukraine, but he accused the West of effectively blocking such talks.
Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.
End the war. It never should have started.
Welcome to the discussion.
Please note: Online comments may also run in our print publications.
Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Please turn off your CAPS LOCK.
No personal attacks. Discuss issues & opinions rather than denigrating someone with an opposing view.
No political attacks. Refrain from using negative slang when identifying political parties.
Be truthful. Don’t knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be proactive. Use the “Report” link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with us. We’d love to hear eyewitness accounts or history behind an article.
Use your real name: Anonymous commenting is not allowed.
The News&Guide welcomes comments from our paid subscribers. Tell us what you think. Thanks for engaging in the conversation!