On the fringes of a G20 meeting in New Delhi, US Secretary of State Blinken and his Russian colleague Lavrov held unannounced talks. It is the first time since the start of Russia's war of aggression in Ukraine that the two politicians have spoken to each other in person.
For the first time since the beginning of the Ukraine war, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had a brief exchange with his Russian colleague Sergey Lavrov. Blinken spoke to Lavrov on the sidelines of the G20 foreign ministers' meeting in New Delhi, among other things, about US support for Ukraine and Russia's suspension of the New Start disarmament agreement, a senior US official said, who asked to remain anonymous. The conversation lasted less than ten minutes. According to Russian media, Lavrov had the conversation in passing. It was neither a negotiation nor a meeting.
Blinken told Lavrov that Washington would continue to support Ukraine, the US official said. The US Secretary of State wanted to "transmit this message directly". "We always remain hopeful that the Russians will reverse their decision and be willing to engage in a diplomatic process that can lead to a just and lasting peace," the US official said. "But I wouldn't say that after that meeting there was any expectation that things would change anytime soon."
Blinken also asked Russia to reverse the decision to suspend the New Start disarmament agreement. Russian President Vladimir Putin said last week that Russia was suspending its participation in the New Start treaty. However, the Foreign Ministry in Moscow later qualified the statement and stated that the country would continue to "strictly adhere to the quantitative limits for strategic offensive arms" during the term of the treaty, which runs until 2026.
Blinken also urged the release of former US soldier Paul Whelan, who is in prison in Russia. He was arrested in Russia in December 2018 and sentenced to 16 years in prison in 2020 on charges of "espionage".
At the meeting of the foreign ministers of the 20 most important industrialized and emerging countries in New Delhi, according to the Indian presidency, different opinions on the Ukraine war prevailed. Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said it was not possible to reconcile the positions. Accordingly, similar to the meeting of G20 finance ministers a week ago, China refused to condemn Russia's actions in Ukraine.
The G20, which also includes Russia, agreed on the importance of a secure food and fertilizer chain and a resilient energy supply, as Jaishankar explained. Russia and representatives of Western countries have accused each other of hijacking the G20 format for their purposes.
Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock accused Russia of preventing the other 19 states from concentrating on what the G20 was founded for: climate protection, food security and the fight against international terrorism. Instead, the group of states must deal with the "brutal breach of multilateralism, the brutal breach of the UN Charter, with the brutal Russian war," "a war against our family, against our future," said Baerbock, according to information from German delegation circles. She urged Lavrov: "Stop this war, stop violating the international order."
Before the consultations began, Baerbock met with the new Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang for bilateral talks, as the Federal Foreign Office announced on Twitter. "In the face of the brutal Russian attack on Ukraine and the UN charter, neutrality rewards the aggressor," the ministry said. India has not yet condemned Russia for the war against Ukraine. In fact, the country with the largest population in the world after China is increasingly buying Russian crude oil, which is currently comparatively cheap on the world market.