The conversation took place spontaneously, lasted only ten minutes and had no really tangible result. And yet, on the fringes of the G20 foreign ministers' meeting in New Delhi, the representatives of Russia and the USA, Sergey Lavrov and Antony Blinken, surprisingly got together. It was the first face-to-face encounter between the two foreign ministers since the attack on Ukraine began. According to the Russian news agency Interfax, the American asked for the meeting. According to US media, Blinken wanted to keep one of the last communication channels open.
Topics of the conversation, according to a senior US diplomat, included US support for Ukraine and Russia's suspension of the New Start disarmament agreement. According to Russian media, Lavrov had the conversation in passing. It was neither a negotiation nor a meeting.
The US Secretary of State informed his counterpart in Moscow that the Washington government will continue to support Ukraine and that he intends to convey this message directly to him, the US official said. And further: "We remain hopeful that the Russians will revise their decision and are willing to participate in a diplomatic process that can lead to a just and lasting peace." However, there is no prospect of the situation changing quickly.
Antony Blinken also asked Lavrov to reverse the Kremlin's decision to suspend the New Start disarmament agreement. He 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".
Sergej Lavrov was also the addressee of an appeal from German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock - although there was no personal exchange. The Green politician addressed her Russian colleague directly: "Mr. Lavrov, end this war," she said, according to the minutes of the meeting. "Here at this G20 table, 19 countries have made it clear that this war must end. That they all finally want peace," Baerbock later told journalists. Lavrov clearly registered this.
And Lavrov himself? According to the state agency Tass, he denounced that criticism of Russia came from Western countries, which had "pumped Ukraine full of weapons" for years. US military operations, for example, have not caused nearly as much outrage in the past. He calls the Western sanctions against his country arbitrary.