WASHINGTON — US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke briefly with one another on Thursday during a meeting of top diplomats from the Group of 20 nations, a U.S. official said Thursday.
The roughly 10-minute conversation marks the first time the two counterparts have come face-to-face since Russia’s launched its war on Ukraine, which has led to deeply strained relations for Russia with the U.S. and its allies across the world.
The U.S. official said Blinken used the brief conversation on the sidelines of the G-20 meeting in New Delhi to make three points to Lavrov: that the U.S. would continue to support Ukraine in its defense against Russia for as long as it takes to end the war; that Russia should rejoin the New START nuclear treaty; and that Russia should release imprisoned American Paul Whelan.
The official added that Blinken “disabused” Lavrov of any idea that the United States’ support of Ukraine would waver, and that the secretary of State didn’t get the impression from the Russian foreign minister that Moscow’s behavior would change in any way.
Blinken and Lavrov have only been in contact one other time since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, speaking by phone over the summer to discuss a U.S. proposal for Russia to release both Whelan and formerly detained WNBA star Brittney Griner. The U.S. in December released Viktor Bout, an imprisoned Russian arms dealer, in exchange for Griner’s release, but Whelan remains imprisoned by the Kremlin, which has accused him of spying.
The last time the two counterparts met in person was in January 2022, just before Russia’s invasion, during a meeting in Geneva where Blinken warned Lavrov of the consequences Moscow would face should it go ahead with launching its unprovoked offensive. Since Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24, 2022, Blinken and Lavrov have attended several international conferences together but had avoided any face-to-face interactions until Thursday.
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