Blinken and Lavrov Meet in India Amid Ukraine Conflict and New START Treaty Suspension
At the G-20 foreign ministers meeting in India, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov had a brief encounter. This marks the first in-person meeting between the two nations' leading diplomats since Russia's invasion of Ukraine on February 24th, 2022. This marks the first contact that Blinken and Lavrov have had since July, when they spoke by phone about a US proposal for Russia to release wrongfully detained American Paul Whelan and formerly detained WNBA star Brittney Griner.
The last time Mr Blinken and Mr Lavrov were in person was in Geneva in January 2022, in the month leading up to Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Relations between the two countries have collapsed over that war, with the US slapping thousands of sanctions on Russia, while militarily, economically and diplomatically supporting Ukraine. Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin suspended Russia's involvement in the New START treaty, only a short time before the anniversary of the invasion.
In the conversation, Blinken called on Russia to release Whelan and resume engagement with the New START treaty, the nuclear arms control agreement from which Putin suspended Russia's participation. “I urged Russia to reverse its irresponsible decision and return to implementing the New START treaty, which places verifiable limits on the nuclear arsenals of the United States and the Russian Federation. Mutual compliance is in the interest of both our countries. It's also what people around the world expect from us as nuclear powers,” Blinken said.
He also asked Russia to end the war in Ukraine and engage in meaningful diplomacy that can produce a just and lasting peace. At a press conference on Thursday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that President Zelensky has proposed a ten-point plan for a just and lasting peace, and that the United States is prepared to assist Ukraine diplomatically in order to end the conflict in accordance with this plan.
On Thursday, the U.S. revealed that they would be providing Ukraine with a large quantity of weapons and further economic aid, following Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen's recent visit to Kyiv. As India is currently occupying the rotating chair of the G-20, it is hoping that the Ukraine conflict will not take center stage at the G-20 meetings. Rather, India wants attention to be directed towards issues more relevant to countries in the Global South, including climate change, food security, inflation, and debt relief.
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