The Russian foreign minister left the G20 meeting of leading economies early after telling his counterparts that the Russian invasion of Russia Ukraine It was not responsible for a global hunger crisis and that sanctions designed to isolate Russia amounted to a declaration of war.
Friday’s gathering was for Sergey Lavrov First direct confrontation With leaders from the West since Russia launched its attack on Ukraine, the West has been accused of frantically criticizing what it claimed were Moscow’s justified actions.
In a stern if brief lecture at the Bali meeting hosted by Indonesia, this year’s G20 president, Lavrov said: “If the West does not want talks but wants to defeat Ukraine, Russia On the battlefield – because both opinions were expressed – there is probably nothing to talk about with the West.”
The veteran Russian diplomat, seated between Saudi Arabia and Mexico at the meeting, accused the West of pressuring Ukraine to “use its weapons” in the fighting. He came out when the German foreign minister, Annallina Barbock, began speaking.
Barbock later said: “The truth is that [Lavrov] I spent a good part of the negotiations not in and out of the room confirming that there is not a single millimeter of willingness to talk from the Russian side.” She claimed that the mood in the room was 19 to 1 against the Russian invasion, even if there were disagreements over sanctions.
Lavrov claimed that he came to Bali to get the impression of “how the West breathes”. It was clear that the West did not use G20 Lavrov said for the purposes for which it was created. He claimed that participants from developing countries did not support this approach.
“The aggressors, the invaders, the dwellers. We have heard quite a few of these things today,” he said while describing the speeches of his Western counterparts. He said some speeches were given for theatrical effect, citing Boris Johnson as a prime example. “Well, he quit, so be it,” said Lavrov. Everyone said that Russia should be isolated. But so far his party has impeached Boris Johnson.”
Much of the meetings and discussions on the sidelines were taken up with efforts to persuade Russia to allow the export of Ukrainian grain stocks Through an independently policed safe sea lane in the Black Sea. But the talks, led largely by Turkey and the United Nations, have dragged on for weeks without any progress.
“Ukraine should end the blockade of its ports, remove mines from them or ensure passage through minefields,” Lavrov said.
After that, Russia and Turkey will ensure the safety of cargo ships outside the Ukrainian sovereign territory so that they can move forward in the Mediterranean, he said. But a meeting in Bali between Lavrov and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu did not lead to any immediate breakthrough.
Lavrov denied that the row was a central factor in the broader global grain shortage, saying the blockaded grain represented 1% of global supply.
Western diplomats say Russia views the theft of Ukrainian grain and obstruction of its exports as measures aimed at weakening the Ukrainian economy and increasing the cost of Western support for the struggling country. In a plenary session the US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinkenurged Moscow to leave Ukrainian grain to the world.
An official said Blinkin addressed Russia directly, saying, “To our Russian colleagues: Ukraine is not your country. His grain is not your grain. Why are you blocking the ports? You should let the grain out.”
Lavrov said again that Russia cannot export its own grain due to Western sanctions, for example because ships are not insured or cannot communicate at foreign ports.
The EU’s foreign affairs official, Josep Borrell, responded by saying that EU sanctions “do not prohibit the import of Russian goods or fertilizer, nor the reimbursement of such Russian exports”. He said Russia had invaded the world’s breadbasket and turned the shipping lanes of the Black Sea into a war zone.
Western leaders refused to join a group photo with Lavrov, but said that their presence at the meeting, in contrast to a complete boycott, showed a greater willingness to make their argument rather than assuming that other neutral countries were present with them.
“I am here as the German foreign minister with my European colleagues to prove that we will not leave the international stage for Russia,” said Barbock, for example, before the meeting.
Lavrov must have been closely referring to a position not of the West but of other major powers such as China, Saudi Arabia and India. Lavrov met with the Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, and told him about the “implementation of the main tasks of the special military operation” in Ukraine and repeated the Kremlin’s rhetoric that its goal was to “discredit the country.”
Lavrov’s visit to Bali is also aimed at preparing for a possible trip by Vladimir Putin to the G20 summit in November. It is unclear whether Putin will attend in person or via video link.
Britain’s foreign secretary, Liz Truss, left the meeting early to fly back to London to campaign for prime minister. She left the Foreign Office official, Sir Tim Barrow, to represent the United Kingdom.
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