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End war of aggression in Ukraine: Blinken tells Lavrov

This was their first face-to-face meeting since the Ukraine conflict broke out a year ago.

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New Delhi: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday said that he “spoke briefly” with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in the Indian capital, and told him that Moscow must “end the war of aggression in Ukraine and engage in meaningful diplomacy”.

Addressing a late evening press conference in the Indian capital, Blinken also said that he conveyed to Lavrov that Russia must “reverse its irresponsible decision” and return to implementing the new START treaty — a nuclear arms reduction treaty between the US and Russia.

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This was their first face-to-face meeting since the Ukraine conflict broke out a year ago.

“I told Lavrov, what I said last week at the UN, and at the G20: End this war of aggression, engage in meaningful diplomacy that can produce just and endurable peace. The US stands ready to support Ukraine through diplomacy,” the US Secretary of State said.

“I spoke briefly with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov today. I urged Russia to reverse its irresponsible decision and return to implementing the new START Treaty,” he said.

He said that “mutual compliance” to the new START treaty is in the interest of both nations. Last month, Russia suspended its participation in the New START treaty, though it did not withdraw from the treaty. Moscow said that it would continue to abide by the numerical limits in the treaty — which limits the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550, down nearly two-thirds from the original START treaty.

Blinken said that Russian President Vladimir Putin has “demonstrated zero interest in engaging” in talks, while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has produced a 10-point plan. 

Blinken also told Lavrov that Russia should release Paul Whelan, an imprisoned American citizen.

The comments on Ukraine come as Russian FM Lavrov in a separate press conference in Delhi, said that Ukraine is being “encouraged to continue the war” by the West.

Lavrov said that when Ukraine wanted to enter peace negotiations last March and the two sides were about to sign an agreement, it was dissuaded by the UK, US and EU.

“No negotiations before Ukraine has advantage on the battlefield”, he quoted EU Foreign Policy chief Josep Borrell as saying.

“We’ve never refused negotiations, and since last March we’ve never seen anything except military shipments and belligerent decisions by the West,” Lavrov said.

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