Russian foreign minister met with shouts at G20 summit dominated by war in Ukraine

by Will Tubbs

Chris Lange, FISM News


Diplomats from the world’s richest and largest developed nations, known as the G20, gathered in Bali, Indonesia Friday for closed-door meetings dominated by Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, who hosted the summit, urged foreign leaders to help end the conflict, according to Reuters. She opened the meeting by calling on the G20 to “find a way forward” to address global challenges created by the war, pointing out that low-income countries will suffer the most.

“It is our responsibility to end the war sooner rather than later and settle our differences at the negotiating table, not at the battlefield,” she said.

Heightened tensions over the war were evident even before the day’s sessions began when Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was met with shouts of  “When will you stop the war” and “Why don’t you stop the war” upon his arrival.

During the plenary, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called out Russia for blocking grain exports from Ukraine, accusing Moscow of stealing it, according to the report which cited an unnamed official.

“He addressed Russia directly, saying: To our Russian colleagues: Ukraine is not your country. Its grain is not your grain. Why are you blocking the ports? You should let the grain out’,”  the official said, noting that Russian diplomats were not in the room at the time the comments were made.

In remarks to reporters later, Lavrov said ministers from Western nations “strayed almost immediately, as soon as they took the floor, to the frenzied criticism of the Russian Federation in connection with the situation in Ukraine.”

“Aggressors’, ‘invaders’, ‘occupiers’ – we heard a lot of things today,” Lavrov told reporters following the first session of the talks.

Blinken said that challenges posed by rising food and energy costs have been “dramatically exacerbated by Russian aggression against Ukraine.

In her remarks following the summit, Marsudi told reporters that discussions about how to address global food and fuel shortages were conducted almost bilaterally, reflecting the deep divisions within the group which included China and India. Both countries have abstained from voting on United Nations resolutions concerning Moscow and have refused to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It was unclear from Marsudi’s remarks whether any agreement had been reached.

Lavrov told reporters that Russia is ready to negotiate with Ukraine and Turkey about grain shipments, but it is unclear when such talks might take place. Previous discussions between the three countries yielded promises but no results.

The summit was also overshadowed by two shocking events this week, including the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Friday. Blinken called his death “profoundly disturbing” and described Abe as “a leader with great vision.” On Thursday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his resignation amid growing calls to step down amid a series of scandals.