Russia’s foreign ministry confirmed they spoke “on the go” at a G20 meeting in India, but said they were not negotiating Ukraine.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Secretary of State Sergey Lavrov met briefly at a meeting of top diplomats from the Group of 20 countries in the first high-level meeting in months between the two countries.
US officials said Blinken and Lavrov talked for about 10 minutes on the sidelines of the G-20 conference in New Delhi on Thursday. The brief encounter comes as relations between Washington and Moscow have plummeted as tensions rise over Russia’s war with Ukraine.
A senior U.S. official said Blinken used the discussion to push Lavrov to three points: that the United States would support Ukraine in the conflict for as long as it takes to bring the war to an end, that Russia will change its decision to withdraw from the to suspend war must be reversed. the new START nuclear treaty and that Moscow should release imprisoned American Paul Whelan.
The official, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity to discuss the private conversation, said Blinken had “discouraged” Lavrov of any idea they might have that US support for Ukraine is wavering.
The official declined to characterize Lavrov’s response, but said Blinken did not get the impression that there would be any change in Russia’s behavior anytime soon.
The Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed that Lavrov and Blinken spoke while “on their way” at the G20 meeting, but did not hold any negotiations or a meeting, Russian news agencies reported.
This is the first contact Blinken and Lavrov have had since July, when they spoke by phone about a US proposal for Russia to release Whelan and former incarcerated WNBA star Brittney Griner.
Griner was later released in exchange for captured Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, but Whelan remains detained in Russia after being accused of espionage.