Russia walks out on G20 summit amid discussion of food crisis and Ukraine
Russia’s foreign minister walked out of the G20 meeting today, telling western leaders “there is nothing to talk about” as he denied his country’s involvement in the global food crisis.
Sergei Lavrov’s departure from the conference, held in Bali, came as his Ukrainian counterpart warned that Russia “does not belong in any international forum” and should only be offered a place in “a court of international justice”.
The event, a meeting of leading economies, marked the first time since Russia's invasion of Ukraine that US secretary of state Antony Blinken and many others have been in the same room with anyone from the Russian government.
One goal of Friday's meeting was to lay the groundwork for the upcoming G20 summit that Indonesia will host in November.
Attempting to hold a middle route, this year's G20 president, Indonesia, has tried to bridge what gaps are possible, laying out an agenda that is not inherently divisive or political. However deepening divides between east and west made it difficult to do so.
Mr Lavrov also took a swipe at prime minister Boris Johnson, who yesterday said he would step down following a flurry of ministerial resignations and calls for his departure following a string of scandals over the past few months. He claimed that Western leaders’ speeches, many of which criticised Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, were for theatrical effect.
“Well, he resigned, and so be it,” Mr Lavrov said of Mr Johnson. “Everyone said Russia must be isolated. But so far his own party has isolated Boris Johnson.”
He added: “If the west doesn’t want talks to take place but wishes for Ukraine to defeat Russia on the battlefield – because both views have been expressed – then perhaps there is nothing to talk about with the west.”
In interviews afterwards, he said he had attended the conference to get an impression “of how the west breathes”.
The delegates spent some time attempting to persuade Russia to allow the export of stockpiles of Ukrainian grain through a safe corridor in the Black Sea, which would be overseen by an independent third party. However, Mr Lavrov insisted that Russia was not to blame, saying that Ukraine should end its blockades and de-mine the area. He said that the gran involved only accounted for one per cent of grain exports worldwide and could not be responsible for the food crisis, which international experts have warned could cause famine in some countries.
Turkish foreign minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, has been attempting to broker an agreement with Russia over the issue and has met with Mr Lavrov in Bali, however, no agreement has been reached.
Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said: "After all that Russia has done in the last six months, it does not belong in any international forum. A country that engage in aggressive war against its neighbour and mass crimes against civilians should be offered only one place: a place on a court of international justice."
He pointed to figures that show that 344 Ukrainian children have been killed since the beginning of the war and 640 more injured.
He said: “However, the minister of the country responsible for their deaths appears before you today to share his thoughts on how Russia views cooperation in our globalised world.”
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