EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell addresses reporters in New Delhi
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell addresses reporters in New Delhi AFP News

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Friday he saw a "small improvement" in diplomacy with Moscow after a Group of 20 meeting that saw rare US-Russia talks.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken met briefly Thursday with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the meeting in New Delhi, with the top US diplomat pressing Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.

Borrell noted that Lavrov remained in the room when Western nations criticised Russia, unlike at the last G20 foreign ministers' meeting in Bali last year, when he stormed out.

"At least this time he stayed and he listened. This is a small improvement but it's important," Borrell said at the Raisina Dialogue, a forum in New Delhi.

"I think it's better than nothing," he said.

Borrell said he would oppose any effort to boot Russia from the G20, meant to represent the world's major economies, in line with Russia's eviction a decade ago from the Group of Seven -- then the Group of Eight -- major industrial democracies.

"We have to keep ways of talking, or at least listening if not talking," Borrell said.

Lavrov, in a sometimes contentious appearance later at the same forum, accused the West of pressuring developing nations to turn on Russia.

"Our Western friends were shouting in the microphones, 'Russia must...!, Russia must...!, Russia must...!" he said.

He said Blinken and other Western leaders have insisted in travels around the world that "Russia must suffer strategic defeat."

"This, they say, is existential for the West in the context of global domination," Lavrov said.

Borrell defended encouragement to developing nations to oppose the war, while adding that he was aware of knock-on effects such as higher food prices.

"I understand people from the so-called Global South that say, look, we cannot bear the consequences of this war," Borrell said.

"But look at who are the guilty for this. Who is the one who created the problem?"

The G20 meeting ended without a joint declaration but India released a statement that noted that Russia and China dissented on a call for Moscow to withdraw from Ukraine.

"That's movement diplomatically," Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said.

"For India to say that Russia and China were the only ones not reaching a consensus is a message in itself."

Joly said she also met with Lavrov on Thursday and told him, "Russia needs to get out of Ukraine -- period."