Home News Ukraine briefing: G-20 ‘marred by Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified war,’ Blinken says

Ukraine briefing: G-20 ‘marred by Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified war,’ Blinken says


Secretary of State Antony Blinken met briefly with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the sidelines of a Group of 20 meeting of foreign ministers in New Delhi.

Requested by Blinken, the face-to-face encounter was the first between the countries’ top diplomats since Russia invaded Ukraine more than a year ago. Blinken emphasized Washington’s desire for a peaceful resolution to the war that preserves Ukraine’s territorial integrity, a senior State Department official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive conversations.

The foreign ministers of the world’s 20 largest economies failed on Thursday to reach consensus on a wide-reaching agenda addressing poverty, corruption and counterterrorism because of persistent disagreements over the war in Ukraine. Blinken said the gathering was “marred by Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified war.” Lavrov accused the West of turning the meeting into a “farce.”

Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.

Kremlin accuses Ukraine of violent attack in western Russia

  • The Kremlin on Thursday blamed Ukraine for an attack in two villages in the Bryansk region of western Russia, in which President Vladimir Putin said assailants had “opened fire on civilians” and the Bryansk governor said two people were killed and hostages were taken. An aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky denied that Kyiv was involved in the incident, which Putin called a “terrorist attack.” Details of the incident were extremely sketchy, and, in an age of ubiquitous cellphone videos, no footage or photos of an attack were circulating on social media, even hours afterward.
  • Ukrainian authorities exhumed the remains of three men from a newly discovered communal grave near Bucha, the area near Kyiv where alleged atrocities last spring set off worldwide outrage and were condemned by world leaders as evidence of Russian war crimes. A local man who had buried the bodies almost a year ago in the mass grave near the town of Borodyanka returned and informed local authorities about it. Regional police chief Andriy Nebytov said officials would attempt to identify the men, potentially using DNA.
  • A document summarizing the G-20 meeting, released by the Indian government, which holds the rotating G-20 presidency, said: “most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine and stressed it is causing immense human suffering and exacerbating existing fragilities in the global economy.” But some governments expressed “other views,” the document said.
  • Blinken and Lavrov’s encounter lasted less than 10 minutes, during which time Blinken urged Russia to reverse its decision to suspend cooperation in the New START nuclear arms accord and to accept a U.S. proposal for the release of American citizen Paul Whelan, said a senior State Department official familiar with the discussion.
  • German chancellor Olaf Scholz will meet with President Biden in Washington on Friday. A senior administration official said the meeting, expected to last about an hour, will be held in the Oval Office with a “significant one-on-one” component. “Both of the leaders wanted this to be a working level meeting, wanted it to be very much a get-down-into-the-weeds focus on the issues of Ukraine,” the official added.

Battleground updates

  • Russian forces are making advances in Bakhmut, the besieged city in eastern Ukraine where fighting has intensified, Ukrainian military officials and the Institute for the Study of War think tank said Wednesday. Geolocated footage from Wednesday showed that Russian forces have advanced on the southern limits of the city, the ISW said. Russia’s Wagner mercenary group founder Yevgeniy Prigozhin posted a video on Telegram of what he said was his soldiers in Bakhmut on Thursday, writing “The lads are mucking about, shooting home video.” The Washington Post geolocated the video to 1.2 miles from the city center, though it is not clear when the video was taken. Analysts say capturing the city would be a largely symbolic victory for Russia.
  • Kherson’s regional administration reported a Russian attack on a humanitarian aid delivery point that injured nine people, including a 10th-grade student. The officials said Russia launched a drone “during the unloading of humanitarian aid” on Thursday as civilians came to pick up vegetables.
  • A Russian strike in Zaporizhzhia killed two people overnight, Anatoly Kurtev, the city’s acting mayor, said on Telegram. He added that people were trapped under the rubble of a five-story residential building damaged in the strike and that the injured were being evacuated.
  • Russia is probably trying to further constrain the International Atomic Energy Agency’s presence at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, the Institute for the Study of War said. In early February, the nuclear watchdog agency was forced to delay a rotation of personnel at the plant for security reasons. Later that month, dozens of detonations occurred near the plant, the ISW said.
  • The International Atomic Energy Agency has completed a “long-delayed” rotation of experts at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, the agency said in a statement Thursday. IAEA chief Rafael Mariano Grossi tweeted that he was proud of the staff’s professionalism, posting a video showing an IAEA expert team “crossing the front line & when necessary, even by foot.” He had expressed concern on Tuesday that the team there was meant to be replaced by new experts more than three weeks prior.

Global impact

  • German Chancellor Olaf Scholz urged Beijing not to supply weapons to “the aggressor” and to use its sway with Moscow to “push for the withdrawal of Russian troops” from Ukraine. Scholz said it was disappointing that China has not yet condemned the war. He made the remarks Thursday in a speech to Germany’s parliament to mark one year since he declared to the body that the war was a “turning point” for the world.
  • The Sakharov Center, a museum in Moscow named for Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov, was forced to close amid Russia’s wartime purge of human rights activists. The center has until the end of April to dismantle its museum exhibition focused on the repressions of the Soviet gulag and to remove Sakharov’s archives and his bust.

From our correspondents

Pregnant Russians are streaming into Argentina. Officials are suspicious. The war has sparked an exodus of Russians, more than 22,000 of whom have arrived in Argentina in the past 14 months. Some of them were pregnant, including Natasha Slepenkova, 30, report David Feliba, Samantha Schmidt and Natalia Abbakumova.

Argentina is one of the few countries that have allowed Russians to enter — and it grants citizenship to children born on Argentine soil, offering them passports at a time when doors are shutting to their parents around the world.

Natalia Abbakumova, Kate Brady, Francesca Ebel, Kamila Hrabchukc, Mary Ilyushina, Alice Martins and Missy Ryan contributed to this report.