Russia joins G20 meeting overshadowed by Ukraine conflict

  • Lavrov met with some of Russia’s harshest critics
  • Talks covering global food and energy security
  • UK foreign secretary cuts Truss trip short – BBC

NUSA DUA, Indonesia, July 7 (Reuters) – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will have his first close encounter with fierce critics of his country’s aggression in Ukraine at the G20 summit in Indonesia on Thursday.

The Russia-Ukraine conflict and the global food crisis are expected to be front and center at a two-day meeting of foreign ministers on the war-torn island of Bali. read more

Thursday’s reception was the first time that Lavrov, President Vladimir Putin’s long-serving foreign minister, was in close proximity to the most vocal opponents of Moscow’s aggression against Ukraine in February, which Moscow called a “special military operation.”

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Russian news agency TASS reported that Lavrov had planned to meet with some of his counterparts on the sidelines of the summit, but ministers including Germany’s Annalena Baerbach and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken have ruled out separate meetings with him.

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said her country and like-minded countries would use the G20 meeting to highlight the impact of the war.

“We will jointly express very clearly our views on Russia’s position and Russia’s behavior,” he said.

However, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss may be leaving soon: the BBC reports that she plans to return to London amid the political drama surrounding Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s resignation.

A British Foreign Office official declined to comment.

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

Speaking after meeting his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, Lavrov stressed the importance of Russia-China relations in shaping a more just and democratic world based on “principles of international law, primarily the UN Charter.”

He said the “openly aggressive” West was “seeking to maintain its privileged position and dominance in international affairs”.

Global food crisis

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

In 2014, the G7 excluded Russia from the G8 due to its annexation of Crimea.

Top officials from Britain, Canada and the United States walked out on the Russian delegation during the G20 finance meeting in Washington in April. However, despite initial talk of boycotting subsequent G20 meetings, some analysts say the West may have decided it would backfire.

A senior US State Department official said on Thursday that it was important for Indonesia to focus on what it planned for its G20 presidency and “there should be no disruptions or interruptions”.

Energy and food security are on the agenda at the Bali meeting, with Western countries accusing Russia of fueling a global food crisis and worsening inflation by blocking Ukrainian grain exports. Russia has said it is ready to export grain without restrictions.

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In his meeting with China’s Wang, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi stressed the need to safeguard regional stability and resolve global issues related to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

“Confirmation from the voices of developing countries is essential to stop the war and reintegrate Ukraine and Russia’s food exports into the global supply chain,” Indonesia’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

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Reporting by Stanley Vidianto in Nusa Dua, Kirsty Needham in Sydney and David Brunstrom in Tokyo; Editing by Kate Lamb Editing by Ed Davies and Frances Kerry

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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