In a significant diplomatic move, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met briefly with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday (March 2) in New Delhi on the sidelines of the G20 foreign minister’s meeting, according to sources. The meeting, which lasted less than 10 minutes, was the first between the two officials since the start of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.
Although reports suggest that Blinken pressed Lavrov on Ukraine’s situation during the meeting and urged Russia to engage with Ukraine based on demands put forward by President Volodymyr Zelensky, a senior US official stated that the purpose of the meeting was to “disabuse the Russians of any notion that our support might be wavering” on Ukraine.
Ambassador Anil Trigunayat noted that “in the Russia -Ukraine war real adversaries are Moscow and Washington. Hence, as two superpowers, certain communication is essential, and messaging is important as this was the fist meeting since the war.”
The meeting took place amid calls from several Western nations for peace initiatives and a day after Blinken had stated that he had no plans to meet his Russian or Chinese counterparts. While the official indicated that Blinken wanted to “send that message directly”, he also emphasized that “I wouldn’t say that coming out of this encounter there was any expectation that things would change in the near term.”
The former Ambassador further opined that Russia’s recent move to suspend the New START treaty could lead to greater proliferation and even trigger the worst-case scenario. “Hence it is possible they would try to assess each other’s position on the War and related dimensions, although not much can be read at this stage since their positions were so starkly divergent,” he added.
The meeting is seen as a significant diplomatic victory for Delhi, as it did not occur during last year’s G20 foreign ministers’ meeting. Prime Minister Narendra Modi
What Russia says According to Russian spokesperson Maria Zarkhova: “US Secretary of State Antony Blinken asked for ‘contact’ with Foreign Minister Lavrov, during the second session of G20 meet they had ‘contact’, there were no talks or full-fledged meeting.”