Russia joins G20 meeting overshadowed by conflict in Ukraine

  • Lavrov in meetings with some of Russia’s fiercest critics
  • Talks covering global food and energy security
  • British Foreign Secretary Truss cuts short trip – BBC

NUSA DUA, Indonesia (Reuters) – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will have his first close meeting with fiercest critics of his country’s invasion of Ukraine at a G20 meeting in Indonesia that began on Thursday.

The Russian-Ukrainian conflict and the global food crisis blamed on the war are expected to be the front and center of the two-day foreign ministers meeting on the island of Bali. Read more

Thursday’s welcome dinner will be the first time that Russian Foreign Minister Vladimir Putin Lavrov has approached the most vocal opponents of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February, which Moscow described as a “special military operation”.

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Russian news agency TASS reported that Lavrov plans to meet some of his counterparts on the sidelines of the summit, but ministers including German Annalina Birbock and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken ruled out separate meetings with him.

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said her country and like-minded countries would use the G-20 meeting to highlight the impact of the war.

“We will collectively clarify our views on Russia’s position and Russia’s behaviour,” she said.

However, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss may leave early: the BBC reports that she plans to return to London amid the political drama around the resignation of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

A British Foreign Office official declined to comment.

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The G-20 includes Western countries that have accused Moscow of war crimes in Ukraine – which it denies – and have imposed sanctions, but also countries such as China, Indonesia, India and South Africa have been more muted in their response.

Speaking after his meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, Lavrov stressed the importance of Russian-Chinese relations in forming “a more just and democratic world based on the principles of international law, primarily the United Nations Charter.”

He also criticized what he said is an “openly aggressive” “West” that seeks to maintain its privileged position and dominance in international affairs.

global food crisis

Some US and European officials stressed that the meeting would not be “as usual”. A spokesman for the German foreign minister said the G7 countries would coordinate their response to Lavrov.

In 2014, the Group of Seven excluded Russia from what became known as the Group of Eight, due to its annexation of Crimea.

Senior officials from Britain, Canada and the United States pulled out of Russian representatives at a G20 financial meeting in Washington in April. But despite early talk of a boycott of subsequent G-20 meetings, some analysts say Western countries may have decided it would be counterproductive.

A senior US State Department official said Thursday that it is important to maintain focus on what Indonesia has set out for its G20 presidency and “not to allow any disruptions or boycotts to do so”.

Energy and food security are on the agenda for the Bali meeting, as Western countries accuse Russia of fueling the global food crisis and exacerbating inflation by blocking Ukraine’s grain shipments. Russia has said it is ready to facilitate the export of grain without hindrance.

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In her meeting with China Wang, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi stressed the need to safeguard regional stability and solve global issues related to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.

“The solidity of the voices of developing countries is necessary to stop the war and reintegrate food exports of Ukraine and Russia into the global supply chain,” the Indonesian foreign ministry said in a statement.

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Additional reporting by Stanley Widianto in Nusa Dua and Kirsty Needham in Sydney and David Bronstrom in Tokyo Writing by Kate Lamb Editing by Ed Davies and Frances Kerry

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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