Blinken and Lavrov Meet for First Time Since Invasion of Ukraine

March 2, 2023

PHOTO: Blinken and Lavrov in Geneva, December 2, 2021.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, met briefly Thursday at the Group of 20 (G-20) event in India—their first face-to-face since Russia invaded Ukraine more than a year ago.

The State Department said that during their exchange, Blinken stressed to Lavrov Washington’s support for a peaceful resolution to the war. 

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said the encounter took place at Blinken’s request while Lavrov was “on the go.”

“There were no negotiations,” Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova told the Russian news agency TASS.

However, the mere fact that the two top diplomats took time to speak with each other suggests the Biden Administration wants to keep the lines of communication open with Russia.

Along with stressing continuing U.S. support for Ukraine, Blinken also urged Russia to reverse President Vladimir Putin’s decision to suspend its participation in the 2010 New START nuclear arms limitation treaty.

On Wednesday, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov revealed that Russia and the U.S. had maintained confidential discussions regarding the treaty in recent days, adding that Moscow could potentially remain open to future such exchanges.

Blinken also urged Lavrov to accept a proposal for the release of Paul Whelan, the U.S. citizen who has been imprisoned in Russia since 2018 on what his family says are trumped up charges of spying.

Beyond negotiating via phone with Lavrov the release of another imprisoned U.S. citizen, WNBA star Brittney Griner, Blinken’s contact with Russian officials has been scant. He has been in the same room as Lavrov during several international gatherings, including the G-20 in Indonesia last year, but the two did not speak one-on-one at that event. 

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