(Bali) Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov avoided several meetings with his counterparts at the G20 summit in Indonesia on Friday after a spate of Western statements condemned Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Posted at 12:23 AM
Updated at 6:34 am
Mr Lavrov and his US counterpart, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, were together for the first time since the war began in February at this meeting of diplomatic chiefs from the world’s 20 largest economies.
The summit organized on the island of Bali did not lead to any concrete decision.
However, the participants expressed “their deep concern about the humanitarian consequences of the war” in Ukraine, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said at the end of the meeting.
Indonesia, which as the host country of the G20 has sought to maintain a neutral position, had called for an end to the conflict at its opening and pointed to its grave global consequences.
Heads of G20 diplomacy began a meeting that promises to be tense with the participation of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Russian counterpart, who had not met since the start of the war in Ukraine.
“It is our responsibility to end the war as quickly as possible and to settle our differences at the negotiating table, not on the battlefield,” said Mr.me Tuesday, in the presence of Mr. Lavrov.
The effects of the war “are being felt all over the world, on food, energy and budgets,” she said. “And as always, poor countries and developing countries are hit hardest.”
The G20 did not unanimously condemn the Russian invasion either, only “certain members” did so, emphasized Mme Marsudi, especially the United States.
“What we’ve heard today is a strong choir from around the world, not just from the US […] this aggression [russe] Stop it,” Antony Blinken told the press.
These calls did not please Mr. Lavrov, who in turn avoided several summits.
According to diplomats, he thus left the morning on which German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock criticized Moscow for this war.
Lavrov also did not attend the meeting where Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba spoke online and Antony Blinken condemned Russia, several diplomats told AFP.
Mr Blinken had refused to meet separately with his Russian counterpart and had denounced Russia’s responsibility for the global food and energy crisis, specifically asking for permission to export grain from Ukraine.
Lavrov replied that Moscow would not follow Washington for talks.
The head of Russia’s diplomacy criticized Western countries for exploiting the G20 arena instead of discussing major global issues.
“Our western partners tried to avoid talking about global economic issues. As soon as they spoke, they almost immediately began rabidly criticizing Russia about the situation in Ukraine, calling us aggressors,” he lamented.
Antony Blinken had previously met with French and German ministers and a British representative to discuss this “unjustifiable and unprovoked” war, the Foreign Office said. They discussed “ways to address global food security concerns arising from Russia’s deliberate focus on Ukrainian agriculture.”
The United States, supported by some of its Western allies, is specifically calling for Russia to be excluded from international forums.
But Indonesia, worried about its neutrality, had invited both the Russian foreign minister and its Ukrainian counterpart.
The latter, Dmytro Kuleba, urged participants to “commemorate the 344 families who lost their children hearing Russian lies”.
“The minister of the country responsible for her death stands before you today to share his thoughts on how Russia views cooperation in our globalized world,” he continued.
The meeting was also overshadowed by the announcement of the attack that killed former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a campaign rally in his country.
The attack on a longtime US ally was “a very sad moment,” said Blinken.
This G20 summit was meant to be a prelude to the heads of state summit to be held in Bali in November, initially devoted to the means to ensure the global recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
But the invasion of Ukraine has changed priorities as Westerners face the Russian offensive and soaring food and energy prices.
A sign of tension at the meeting that, contrary to tradition, there will be no group photo at the end, an Indonesian official said.
In Ukraine, Western critics on Friday did not stop the Russian army from continuing to bombard the Donetsk region after four and a half months of war in a bid to seize the entire Donbass Basin, its strategic objective, as it withdrew from the Kyiv area end March.
Russian attacks in the Donetsk region left six dead and 21 wounded within 24 hours, Ukrainian Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said.
The Ukrainian army claimed to have repelled an attempted Russian advance near Sloviansk, but detected an enemy advance south of Siwersk.
In the Kharkiv region (northeast), the country’s second largest city, Russian bombing killed four civilians and wounded nine in a 24-hour period, Governor Oleg Sinegoubov said.
In the south, on Friday morning, Kyiv reported explosions in the neighboring region of Mykolaiv, from where attempts to counterattack the city of Kherson, which had been occupied since the first days of the war, began.