Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stormed out of the first meeting of the G20 countries in Bali rather than continue to face a barrage of criticism over Russia’s war in Ukraine. He did so as German counterpart Annalena Baerbock criticized Moscow over its invasion. She criticized Russia for blocking dialogue with international partners. Lavrov didn’t bother to attend the second meeting of the day.
Speaking to German television from the G20 gathering in Bali, Baerbock said Lavrov ‘left the first session halfway through’ and skipped a second session ‘which shows even more clearly that he’s not interested in international cooperation or dialogue with the other G19 partners’.
Lavrov later also ditched an afternoon session before a virtual appearance by Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba and was not present as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned Russia in the closed-door meeting in Bali, diplomats said.
‘It underscores that the Russian government is not showing a millimetre of willingness to talk, particularly on the important question of how we will grapple with the global food crisis,’ she said.
Baerbock said although the remaining 19 countries had differing views on ‘Russia’s war of aggression’, they were ‘very clear in appealing to Russia that this war must end’.
‘The majority of the countries made clear that Russia has the responsibility to immediately stop the bombing,’ she said.
Lavrov ironically proved her point. He left the room rather than engage in dialogue, even if it included criticism of Putin’s war in Ukraine. What did Lavrov expect would happen at the G20? Did he expect everything to be like a normal meeting with lots of back slapping and glad handing over cocktails and nice dinners? Lavrov’s boss invaded Ukraine and the members of the G20 are insisting that Lavrov hear their message – stop the bombing in Ukraine.
After Lavrov left the meeting, he told reporters, ‘Our Western partners are trying to avoid talking about global economic issues. From the moment they speak, they launch into fevered criticism of Russia.’ Yeah, imagine that, Lavrov. Putin invaded Ukraine in order to make a land grab and install a puppet government in Kyiv and most of the rest of the G20 countries don’t approve of that. Did he think that none of the other foreign ministers would say anything?
U.S. Secretary of State Blinken and Lavrov seem to be in a stand-off. Blinken refused to meet with Lavrov in a one-on-one meeting. Blinken accused Russia of triggering a global food crisis. Lavrov told reporters he will not beg for talks with Blinken.
‘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,’ Blinken said in the closed-door talks, according to a Western official present.
Lavrov earlier told reporters he would not ‘go running’ after Washington for talks.
‘It was not us who abandoned contact, it was the United States,’ he said.
The conference has been overshadowed by other world events – the resignation of Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Some measures are being taken to ease concerns from the U.S. about Lavrov attending the G20 meeting. There will not be the traditional family photo of the G20 ministers, for example. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been invited to the G20 summit in November. A U.S. official told reporters that Washington didn’t want to embarrass the host country by walking out on Lavrov. The question remains, though – why was Lavrov invited in the first place, given Putin’s war in Ukraine?
Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba left no doubt about Ukraine’s opinion of Lavrov’s presence.
In his address, Kuleba told ministers to ‘remember about 344 families who have lost their children when listening to Russian lies’.
‘The minister of the country responsible for their deaths appears in front of you today to share his thoughts on how Russia views cooperation in our globalised world,’ he added.
Blinken is trying to present a show of unity with other Western countries against Russia. That’s been diluted, though, since Boris Johnson’s resignation Thursday. British Foreign Minister Liz Truss left Friday morning and was replaced by former British ambassador to the EU, Sir Tim Barrow.
Lavrov may as well go home. He shouldn’t have been invited in the first place. No one is going to apologize for his hurt feelings. He deserves to hear all the criticism the other countries can muster. Zelensky should have been invited to this conference, not waiting for his invitation in November.