Secretary of State Antony Blinken used his platform at the Group of Twenty (G20) summit to accuse Russia of having no interest in negotiations. Russia Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow believes Washington is at fault for the frozen relationship.
In Bali, Indonesia, Blinken condemned Russia for having no interest in diplomacy. "The problem is this: We see no signs whatsoever that Russia at this moment in time is prepared to engage in meaningful diplomacy," he said.
The top American diplomat claimed several "other countries" have engaged with Russia in recent months, and all report Moscow is not prepared to seriously engage in talks to resolve the conflict in Ukraine. Blinken did not specify what countries have spoken with Moscow.
Last month, Turkish officials offered to host talks aimed at allowing the grain to be shipped from Ukrainian ports. Moscow promised not to target any cargo ships carrying food products, while Kiev declined to engage in negotiations. Additionally, Lavrov said the Ukrainian negotiation team made a workable proposal in April, but Kiev later broke off talks.
Lavrov said the Kremlin’s position is that the West is responsible for the diplomatic freeze, and it was willing to engage when the US was ready. "It was not us that abandoned all contact. It was the United States." He added, "If they don’t want to talk, it’s their choice.
Blinken went on to say the White House believes Russia will only engage in negotiations after Western weapons transfers to Ukraine will force Moscow to the table and give Kiev the best hand possible. " I think our goal is clear, and you’ve heard the President speak to this at the G7, at the NATO summit, to make sure that we continue the support that we’ve been providing for Ukraine in terms of security assistance, humanitarian assistance, economic assistance." He continued, " It’s to make sure that we keep the pressure on Russia so that we incentivize to actually engage in meaningful diplomacy.’"
Lavrov said Blinken’s position is a recipe for a long war. "If the West doesn’t want talks to take place but wishes for Ukraine to defeat Russia on the battlefield – because both views have been expressed – then perhaps, there is nothing to talk about with the West," Lavrov said.
Blinken has not spoken with Lavrov since February 15. On Sunday, Vice President Kamala Harris said the Biden administration is attempting to secure the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner from Russia. Griner pled guilty to a drug possession change and is facing up to ten years in a Russian prison. It’s unclear how the White House intends to get the Kremlin to release the basketball star without engaging with the Russian government.