Mar 6, 2023

Blinken Face-to-Face With Russian Counterpart for First Time Since Invasion of Ukraine Transcript

Blinken Face-to-Face With Russian Counterpart for First Time Since Invasion of Ukraine Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsAntony BlinkenBlinken Face-to-Face With Russian Counterpart for First Time Since Invasion of Ukraine Transcript

The world’s 20 wealthiest nations met in New Delhi for the G20 summit. Read the transcript here.

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Speaker 1 (00:00):

The world’s 20 wealthiest nations met in New Delhi today for the G20 summit, hosted by India and bringing together the US, Russia, and China. But the gathering on global cooperation was largely overshadowed by bitter disagreement on the war in Ukraine and concluded with no consensus.

For the first time since Russia’s full scale invasion of Ukraine, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken met face-to-face with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov a 10-minute meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in New Delhi, Blinken urging Lavrov to end what he called a war of aggression.

Anthony Blinken (00:38):

President Zelenskyy has put forward to 10 point plan for a just and durable peace. President Putin, however, has demonstrated zero interest in engaging, saying there’s nothing to even talk about.

Speaker 1 (00:49):

Laval blaming the West for prolonging the war.

Sergey Lavrov (00:53):

While we are being called for talks, I don’t remember Western colleagues urging Ukraine for talks, probably because Ukraine is being encouraged for a continuation of the war.

Speaker 1 (01:03):

Blinken and Lavrov last met in January of 2022, one month before Russia launched its war in Ukraine with global reverberations. A year later, growing worries over Beijing and Moscow’s closer ties. Blinken today threatened sanctions if China supplied weapons to Russia saying the issue was raised with Chinese officials last month in Munich and with partners in New Delhi today.

Anthony Blinken (01:30):

I made clear that there would be consequences for engaging in those actions. So I’m not going to detail what they would be. But of course, we have sanctions authorities of various kinds.

Narenda Modi (01:43):

We are meeting at a time of deep global divisions.

Speaker 1 (01:47):

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the fallout shouldn’t disrupt global agreements on food, energy, and debt.

Narenda Modi (01:53):

We should not allow issues that we cannot resolve together to come in the way of those we can.

Speaker 1 (02:04):

Modi has stopped short of condemning Russia for its war, and India has continued to import discounted Russian oil throughout the conflict. For more on today’s G20 meeting and in particular China and India’s support for Russia, we get two views. Sumit Ganguly is a distinguished professor of political science at Indiana University and Elizabeth Wishnick is a senior research scientist at the Center for Naval Analyses. She’s on leave from Montclair State University. Welcome to you both and thanks for being here. Sumit, I’ll begin with you. And India’s relationship with Russia. Modi is attempting to be as neutral as possible it seems. Explain that to us. Why would Modi not want to upset Putin?

Sumit Ganguly (02:47):

There are three compelling reasons why Modi is following this very delicate tightrope walk. To begin with, anywhere between 60 to 75% of India’s weaponry is either of Russian or Soviet origin. And consequently, India is acutely dependent on Russia for supplies of spare parts and a continuing pipeline of weaponry. Secondly, India can ill afford to buy oil on the global market given the price of oil, and the Russians are prepared to sell oil at concessionary rates, which is easing inflation in India when global inflation is affecting the Indian economy. And third, there is a degree of Cold War nostalgia that permeates the Indian political elite. And consequently, they are unwilling to totally abandon Russia and rebuke Russia for its actions in the Ukraine.

Speaker 1 (03:56):

Elizabeth, what about the Chinese view here? When we last spoke a year ago, Russian troops were massing on the Ukrainian border. Putin flew to Beijing to meet with President Xi. You said then that you didn’t believe a war in Ukraine was in China’s interest. So why does China stand with Russia today?

Elizabeth Wishnick (04:14):

Well, Russia is an important partner for China. China just doesn’t have another partner of Russia’s stature, a UN security council member, a neighbor with which China shares a very lengthy border like India. China also receives military technology from Russia, though increasingly China is producing its own. And China has also been increasingly importing oil and gas from Russia and sees overland supplies of energy as more secure than risking seaborn supplies where the US could intervene.

Speaker 1 (05:00):

The oil component is huge. I’d like to ask you both about that because over the last year, the US and West have worked very hard to cut off Russia’s oil revenue. At the same time, China and India have ramped up. There are oil imports from Russia. When you look at the numbers, those are China’s numbers in red, India’s numbers in yellow in terms of oil imports from Russia. China has hiked up their imports from 1.8 million barrels a day to 2.3 million. India has increased from fewer than a million, 0.1 million barrels per day, up to 1.6 million barrels per day. Shamek, this is arguably helping to fuel the war. So what does India say? How do they justify that increase in oil imports from Russia?

Sumit Ganguly (05:42):

They justify that increase on the grounds that this is easing India’s economic burden, that ultimately India has to be concerned about 1.4 billion of its own population and that India has meager other sources of obtaining oil at a reasonable price in the global market. And consequently, they sort of shrug their shoulders and say the Western world also deals with any number of regimes which are not entirely savory. And who are they to hectare us about who we are buying oil from, particularly at a time of dire need?

Speaker 1 (06:32):

Has that strained US India relations in any way?

Sumit Ganguly (06:35):

It has strained US relations, but the US has mostly expressed its discomfort privately. Publicly, Anthony Blinken, President Biden have maintained mostly a silence on this subject after he initially when Blinken had raised the issue with his Indian counterpart, [inaudible 00:07:01] Jai Shanker, but Jai Shanker basically rebuffed Blinken at the time, and subsequently the US has not publicly abraded or rebuked India.

Speaker 1 (07:13):

Elizabeth, what about from the Chinese perspective? How do they explain the increase in oil imports?

Elizabeth Wishnick (07:18):

They have been increasing their imports from Russia steadily over time. And prior to the war, Russian oil accounted for 17% of Chinese imports, and now it’s about 20%. So first China, they see it as a matter of energy security, that Russia is a close supply of oil and this oil, some of it has been going to Chinese reserves. I think China’s concerned about supply chains and wants to make sure it has enough reserves of oil.

Speaker 1 (07:58):

That purchase has certainly increased tensions between the US and China, though then we had the spy balloon incident of course, and now we have US officials warning Chinese officials against providing lethal support to Russia. Would doing that in any way be in China’s interest?

Elizabeth Wishnick (08:15):

I think they know that this is a red line for the international community as they’re threatened with sanctions if they do this. But nonetheless, we have seen evidence of some companies trying to go under the radar and provide some parts for aircraft by falsifying records claiming these are commercial aircraft. And there was evidence of a small company, [inaudible 00:08:44] intelligent aviation that was in an agreement with a Chinese state-owned defense company, a China Poly group to provide prototypes for kamikaze drones. So this is a delivery that was supposed to be by April, and we don’t know if it will take place. So I think that some companies are trying to find ways of getting technology to their Russian counterparts. They’ve been working together for a long time. We don’t know if this is a state directed effort by China to aid Russia though.

Speaker 1 (09:19):

Do you believe the threat of sanctions as Secretary Blinken said today would prevent China from acting in that way?

Elizabeth Wishnick (09:25):

Well, we haven’t seen any systematic effort by China to overtly provide military aid. So I think the sanctions are a factor, but also the huge reputational cost because China just issued a position paper where it claims to be impartial and aiming for peace. And so this would certainly run counter to that message.

Speaker 1 (09:45):

Certainly be following both of these nations very closely. Sumit Ganguly and Elizabeth Wishnick, thank you both for joining us.

Elizabeth Wishnick (09:52):

Thank you.

Sumit Ganguly (09:52):

Thank you.

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