US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke briefly on Thursday in the highest-level in-person talks between the two countries since then Russia’s the invasion of Ukraine. But there was no indication of any move to ease the intense tensions between their two nations.

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The brief meeting came as relations between Washington and Moscow have frayed over Russia’s war with Ukraine and tensions have soared amid a myriad of disagreements, complaints and accusations on other issues ranging from arms control to embassy staff and prisoners.

US officials said Blinken and Lavrov chatted for about 10 minutes on the sidelines of the G-20 conference of foreign ministers in New Delhi. But there was no sign of any progress and the conference itself ended with the grouping unable to reach a consensus on the Ukraine war.

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Still, with relations at perhaps their lowest point since the Cold War’s Cuban Missile Crisis, the mere fact that the two men met showed that, at least for now, high-level lines of communication between Washington and Moscow remain open.

At a press conference, Blinken said he told Lavrov that the United States will continue to support Ukraine as long as it takes and will push for an end to the war through diplomatic terms that Kiev agrees to.

“End this war of aggression, engage in meaningful diplomacy that can create a just and lasting peace,” Blinken said he told Lavrov. But he noted that “President Putin has shown zero interest in engaging, saying there is nothing to even talk about unless and until Ukraine accepts and I quote ‘the new territorial reality’.”

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Blinken said he also urged Russia to reverse “its irresponsible decision and return to” participation in the New START nuclear deal.

“Mutual compliance is in the interest of both our countries,” Blinken told Lavrov. He added “that no matter what happens in the world, in our relationship the United States is always ready to engage and act for strategic arms control, just as the United States and the Soviet Union did even at the height of the Cold War.”

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Blinken said he also urged Moscow to release imprisoned American Paul Whelan and that “the United States has made a serious proposal. Russia should take it.”

Earlier, Blinken had told the G-20 meeting that Russia’s war with Ukraine could not go unchallenged.

“We must continue to call on Russia to end its war of aggression and withdraw from Ukraine for international peace and economic stability,” Blinken said. He noted that 141 countries had voted to condemn Russia at the United Nations on the first anniversary of the invasion.

Yet several members of the G-20, including host India, China and South Africa, chose to abstain from that vote and, despite pleas from top Indian officials to look beyond their differences on Ukraine and build consensus on other issues, the foreign ministers were unable do so or agree on a final message.

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Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said there were “differences” on the issue of the war in Ukraine “which we could not reconcile because different parties had different views.” “If we had a perfect meeting on all issues, it would have been a collective statement,” Jaishankar said.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had earlier appealed to all members of the divided G-20 countries to reach consensus on issues of particular concern to poorer countries even as the wider east-west divide over Ukraine could not be overcome.

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“We all have our positions and our perspectives on how to resolve these tensions,” Modi said. “We should not allow problems we cannot solve together to get in the way of those we can.”

China and Russia objected to two paragraphs from the previous G-20 declaration in Bali last year, according to a summary of Thursday’s meeting released by India. And Blinken lamented that “Russia and China were the only two countries that made it clear that they would not sign the text.”

The paragraphs stated that the war in Ukraine caused enormous human suffering while exacerbating the fragility of the global economy, the need to uphold international law, and that “the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is impermissible.”

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Despite the failure to reach full consensus, Blinken said it was positive that 18 of the 20 nations had agreed on a statement calling for an end to the war and immediate action to improve energy and food security that has been hit hard by the conflict.

Lavrov, who did not mention that he spoke with Blinken when he held a news conference after the G-20 session, told reporters that Moscow would continue to press its actions in Ukraine. He shrugged off Western claims about Russia’s isolation, saying “we don’t feel isolated. It is the West that has isolated itself, and it will eventually realize that.”

He said Russia remains open to talks on ending the conflict in Ukraine, but he accused the West of effectively blocking such talks.


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“They are urging us to hold talks, but I don’t recall any Western colleagues calling on Ukraine to hold talks,” he said. “They encourage Ukraine to continue the war.”

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Lavrov also mocked US threats against China, which has presented a peace plan for Ukraine that has been applauded by Moscow but dismissed by Washington and its Western allies.

“Our Western colleagues have lost self-control, forgotten their manners and put aside diplomacy and resorted only to blackmail and threats.” he said.

Russia had no immediate comment on the content of the conversation, but Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Blinken had asked to speak with Lavrov.

It was their first contact since last summer, when Blinken spoke with Lavrov by phone about a U.S. proposal that Russia release Whelan and formerly imprisoned WNBA star Brittney Griner. Griner was later released in an exchange for jailed Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, but Whelan remains imprisoned in Russia.

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Whelan, a Michigan security chief, has been jailed for four years on espionage charges that his family and the US government have said are baseless.

The last time Blinken and Lavrov met in person was in Geneva, Switzerland, in January 2022 on the eve of Russia’s invasion. At that meeting, Blinken warned Lavrov of the consequences if Russia goes ahead with its planned military operation but also sought to address some complaints Russian President Vladimir Putin had made about the United States and NATO.

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Those talks proved inconclusive _ Russia went ahead with its plans to invade, and Blinken then canceled a planned follow-up meeting with Lavrov that was set for just two days before Moscow eventually invaded on February 24, 2022.