US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday he will not meet the Russian or Chinese foreign ministers at this week’s Group of 20 meeting in New Delhi, charging that Moscow was not serious about ending the war in Ukraine.
“I have no plans to see either at the G20,” Blinken told reporters in Tashkent before flying out to New Delhi, while adding that he expected to participate in group sessions with them.
Blinken has refused to meet Lavrov in person since the Ukraine invasion, dismissing Russian statements that it is ready to discuss the war launched by President Vladimir Putin.
“If Russia – President Putin – were genuinely prepared to engage in meaningful diplomacy necessary to end the aggression, of course we’d be the first to work to engage, but there’s zero evidence of that,” Blinken said.
“The real question is whether Russia will get to a point where it is genuinely prepared to end its aggression, and to do so in a way that is consistent with the United Nations Charter.”
Lavrov and Blinken last met individually in January 2022 in Geneva when the American warned against an invasion. The top US diplomat cancelled a follow-up meeting when it became clear that Russia was set on attacking Ukraine, which it did on February 24.
Blinken, however, has spoken by telephone with Lavrov for the narrow purpose of exchanging US and Russian prisoners, with Ukraine not part of the discussion.
The two sat in the same room during the last G20 ministerial in July in Bali, where Western officials say Lavrov stormed out after hearing criticism of the war.
Blinken held a tense meeting on February 18 with Chinese foreign policy supremo Wang Yi on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference. The meeting came days after Blinken cancelled a long-awaited visit to Beijing following the discovery of a purported Chinese spy balloon over the US mainland.
The balloon drama has renewed tensions that had appeared to ease since a November meeting between Presidents Xi Jinping and Joe Biden in Bali.
The Biden administration has described China as the top long-term challenger of the United States but has also called for establishing “guardrails” to prevent friction from spiralling out of control.
Beijing has recently put forward a peace proposal for Ukraine.
Blinken said that there were “positive elements” in the proposal but that China would put the emphasis on restoring Ukraine’s sovereignty if it were “genuinely serious” about diplomacy.