Blinken, Lavrov meet for first time since Ukraine invasion

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STORY: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday spoke face-to-face with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov for the first time since Moscow's invasion of Ukraine one year ago.

"I spoke briefly with Russia's foreign minister, Lavrov, on the margins of our G20 meeting, today."

The two diplomats were both at a G20 meeting of foreign ministers in New Delhi.

In remarks, Blinken said he urged Moscow to reverse its suspension of the New START nuclear treaty, emphasized that the U.S. would support Ukraine as it fought back against Russia's offensive, and called on Moscow to withdraw its forces.

"End this war of aggression. Engage in meaningful diplomacy that can produce a just and durable peace."

Blinken also said he pressed Lavrov to release American citizen Paul Whelan, who Russia accused of spying and sentenced to 16 years in prison. Washington says Whelan is not a spy and the charges against him are a sham.

Russian news agencies reported the Russian foreign ministry said Lavrov and Blinken spoke "on the move" for less than 10 minutes at the end of the closed-door session, and did not engage in any negotiations.

Relations between Washington and Moscow are at their worst level in decades. Blinken said that despite these tensions, the two great powers should be able to work together on matters of global security.

“I told the foreign minister that no matter what else is happening in the world or in our relationship, the United States will always be ready to engage and act on strategic arms control, just as the United States and the Soviet Union did even at the height of the Cold War. ”

Inside the summit, the United States and European allies urged the Group of 20 nations to keep up pressure on Moscow to end the conflict. Russia, which calls its actions a "special military operation," hit back, accusing the West of turning work on the G20 agenda into a "farce."

Host nation India sought to highlight the economic impact of the war as well as issues such as climate change and poorer countries' debt.

But New Delhi's efforts to bridge differences and produce a joint statement or a communique stumbled due to differences over the war. The meeting produced an "outcome document" instead.

India has declined to publicly blame Russia for the war and has sought a diplomatic solution while boosting its purchases of Russian oil.