U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Meet for the First Time in a Year

On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov finally held a face-to-face meeting since the start of the war in Ukraine one year ago.[0] This brief exchange comes on the sidelines of the G-20 meeting in New Delhi, India, a gathering of world leaders and ministers from the world's biggest economies.[1] This was the first contact the two countries have had since July 2020, when they spoke by phone about a U.S. proposal for Russia to release U.S. citizen Paul Whelan and formerly detained WNBA star Brittney Griner.[2]

During the meeting, Blinken urged Russia to reverse its decision to suspend cooperation in the New START nuclear arms treaty.[3] He also asked Moscow to accept a U.S. proposal for the release of Whelan and noted that the U.S. was “determined to bring Paul and every other American citizen who is unjustly detained around the world home. We won't rest until we do.”[4]

Blinken went on to emphasize the importance of strategic arms control between the two countries, even at the height of the Cold War, and urged Russia to end its war of aggression and engage in meaningful diplomacy that can produce a just and durable peace.[5] He noted that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has put forward a 10-point plan to end the war, but accused Moscow of refusing to engage in diplomacy.

In addition, Blinken said the U.S. stands ready to support Ukraine through diplomacy to end the war, based on Zelenskyy’s 10-point plan, and noted that 141 countries had voted to condemn Russia at the United Nations on the one-year anniversary of the invasion.

It is clear that the U.S. is not backing down in its support for Ukraine and will continue to press Russia to end its aggression and return to the negotiating table. The U.S. has put forward a serious proposal for the release of Whelan, and it remains to be seen if Moscow will accept it.[6]

0. “Blinken met with Russian foreign minister for first time since Ukraine war began” CNN, 2 Mar. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/03/02/politics/antony-blinken-sergey-lavrov-g20/index.html

1. “Blinken reveals details of short encounter with Lavrov on G20 margins” Ukrinform, 2 Mar. 2023, https://www.ukrinform.net/rubric-polytics/3677417-blinken-reveals-details-of-short-encounter-with-lavrov-on-g20-margins.html

2. “Blinken, Lavrov talk at G20 meeting as US-Russia tensions soar” Al Jazeera English, 2 Mar. 2023, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/3/2/blinken-lavrov-talk-at-g20-meeting-as-us-russia-tensions-soar

3. “Blinken has rare encounter with Russia's Lavrov at G-20 meeting in India” The Washington Post, 2 Mar. 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/03/02/blinken-lavrov-g20-russia/

4. “Blinken and Lavrov meet for first time since Russia invaded Ukraine last year” NPR, 2 Mar. 2023, https://www.npr.org/2023/03/02/1160572133/lavrov-putin-meet-g20

5. “Antony Blinken and Sergei Lavrov meet for first time since Ukraine war” BBC, 2 Mar. 2023, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-64825198

6. “‘End this war’ U.S. tells Russia as top officials discuss Ukraine at G20” Global News, 2 Mar. 2023, https://globalnews.ca/news/9522889/russia-us-g20-ukraine-talks/

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