Top US and Russian diplomats meet for first time since Ukraine invasion

Kylie Atwood and Fred Pleitgen

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of the G20 in New Delhi, according to a State Department official traveling with Blinken.

The meeting comes as tensions remain high over Ukraine as well as Russia’s suspension of the New START nuclear weapons treaty.

Blinken and Lavrov spoke for roughly 10 minutes, the same official said. In the conversation, Blinken called on Russia to release Paul Whelan and restart participation in New START, as well as underscoring US support for Ukraine, according to the source.

The source also said that this meeting was unplanned and that Secretary Blinken was the one to approach Lavrov on the sidelines of the G20 foreign ministers meeting in New Delhi.

Russian Ministry of Foreign affairs spokeswoman Maria Zakharova confirmed to CNN that the meeting took place.

“Blinken asked for contact with Lavrov. On the go, as part of the second session of the twenty, Sergey Viktorovich (Lavrov) talked. There were no negotiations, meetings, etc,” she said.

The last time Blinken and Lavrov met in person was before the Russian invasion.

Earlier Blinken said that a meeting of G20 finance ministers was “marred” by the war in Ukraine.

“Unfortunately, this meeting has again been marred by Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified war against Ukraine, deliberate campaign of destruction against civilian targets, and its attack on the core principles of the UN Charter,” he said.

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