Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov leaves G20 meeting, slams West for ‘frenzied criticism’

G20 foreign ministers yesterday called for an end to the war and grain blockade in Ukraine, as Russia’s top diplomat walked out of a meeting slamming the West for “frenzied criticism” and wasting an opportunity to resolve global economic problems.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine and its impact on food security and energy dominated the closed gathering on the Indonesian island of Bali, which ended with no joint statement and no announcement of agreements.

The forum was the first face-to-face meeting between Russia and the harshest critics of its war.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, whose arrival at the meeting was greeted with shouts of “When will you end the war?” was firmly in the spotlight. and “Why don’t you stop the war?” when he was greeted by Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi.

Lavrov emerged from the first session with a scathing rebuke of Western colleagues, who he said had “almost immediately” veered off the topics of “frenzied criticism of the Russian Federation.”

“Aggressors”, “invaders”, “occupiers” – we heard a lot of things today,” Lavrov said.

At the following session, Lavrov read a statement and then left without hearing others, according to European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who called the action “not very respectful.”

Mr Lavrov attended a welcome reception on Thursday that was not attended by G7 ministers. Russia is calling the war a “special military operation” to demote Ukraine’s military and root out people it describes as dangerous nationalists.

Ukraine and its Western backers say Russia is engaged in imperial-style land grabs with no justification for its invasion.

“This was not a warm bath for Lavrov,” said a Western official who attended the meeting, adding that there had been some “very strong statements” against Russia’s invasion
and a consensus on the need to end the blockade on Ukrainian grain exports.

Mr Lavrov and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke directly while in the boardroom, said Ms Retno of Indonesia, who chaired the forum. She didn’t say what they discussed.

Mr Blinken said challenges posed by rising food and energy costs “have been exacerbated dramatically by Russian aggression”. He told delegates that the G20 must hold Russia accountable to stay relevant, according to a State Department official.

Ukraine, the world’s fourth-largest grain exporter, is struggling to export goods with many of its ports blocked as war rages along the south coast.

Mr Lavrov said Russia is ready to negotiate grain with Ukraine and Turkey, but it is unclear when such talks could take place.

The meetings were marred by the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, which Mr Blinken described as “deeply disturbing” and expressing his dismay at the death of “a leader with great vision”.

Australian Foreign Secretary Penny Wong said Mr Abe was “a giant on the world stage” with a legacy of global impact.

Addressing the meeting virtually, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba accused Russia of playing “hunger games” by blockading Ukraine’s Black Sea port.

“We have no right to allow Russia to continue to blackmail the world through high energy prices, hunger and security threats,” he said.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi previously said Beijing is opposed to any act of bloc confrontation and the creation of a “new Cold War”.

He held talks with Ms. Wong at the first such meeting between China and Australia in three years, which Ms. Wong described as “an important first step” in stabilizing ties.

Links have soured over allegations of foreign interference and retaliatory trade sanctions.

In her closing remarks, Ms. Retno from Indonesia said that the G20 meeting showed the urgent need to strengthen multilateralism and that it was important that foreign ministers could still meet in the same room despite global challenges. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov leaves G20 meeting, slams West for ‘frenzied criticism’

Fry Electronics Team

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