No ‘business as usual’ for G20 foreign ministers’ meeting in Bali

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Chief delegates prepare for a meeting on the final day of the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia February 18, 2022. Mast Irham/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

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July 6 (Reuters) – G20 foreign ministers travel to the resort island of Bali this week for a meeting that will be overshadowed by the war in Ukraine, with Russia’s presence creating divisions in the bloc as the Indonesia is trying to mediate.

The G20 includes Western countries that have accused Moscow of war crimes in Ukraine and implemented sanctions, but also countries like China, Indonesia, India and South Africa that have not followed suit. not.

The gathering will be the first time that foreign ministers from some of the world’s largest economies have met Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov since Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

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Speaking ahead of the G20 meeting which runs from Thursday to Friday, German Foreign Ministry spokesman Christian Wagner said it would not be a “normal summit” nor a business as usual.

Germany holds the chairmanship of the Group of Seven industrialized nations and would coordinate in Bali how to respond to Lavrov in light of the war in Ukraine, he said.

Senior officials from Britain, Canada and the United States left Russian representatives at a G20 finance meeting in Washington in April. Read more

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken would actively participate in the meeting while “also staying true to another overarching goal, which is that business cannot be business as usual with the Russian Federation“, said one. spokesperson for the US State Department. .

Blinken will meet Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Bali, but no meeting is scheduled with Lavrov. Read more

As G20 chair this year, Indonesia has been caught in the center of a geopolitical storm over the war, trying to fend off threats from Western countries to boycott the meetings. After the meeting of foreign ministers, G20 finance ministers are due to meet next week, also in Bali.

Trying to leverage Indonesia’s neutrality, President Joko Widodo embarked on an ambitious peace-brokering mission last week, traveling to Kyiv and Moscow to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and President Russian Vladimir Putin.

The president, widely known as Jokowi, invited Ukraine to the G20 this year, tried to convince Russia to end the blockade of grain exports that is causing a global food crisis and presented Indonesia as a “diplomatic bridge” between nations.

Ukraine’s Ambassador to Indonesia Vasyl Hamianin said his country’s foreign minister will deliver a virtual speech at the Bali meeting.

THE PLAN TO SNUBER G20 MEETINGS REDESIGNED

Despite initial talk of refusing some G20 meetings, Western leaders eventually decided that handing the floor over to Russia would be counterproductive, said Max Bergmann, a Russia and Europe expert and former senior government official. US State Department.

“If you don’t show up, and then the Russians have the floor with some really critical countries like Indonesia, India and others, then they make their case unopposed,” said Bergmann, who is now at the Center for Strategic in Washington. and international studies.

Ramin Toloui, US assistant secretary of state for economic and business affairs, said on Tuesday that food and energy would feature prominently at the meeting. Read more

“G20 countries should hold Russia accountable and insist that it supports ongoing UN efforts to reopen sea lanes for grain delivery,” he said.

During a trip to Vietnam on Wednesday, Russia’s Lavrov called on all parties around the world to make efforts to protect international laws as “the world is changing in a complicated way”.

His comments ahead of his arrival in Bali come as Russia has been accused by Western countries of breaking international law with its invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special operation”.

The reaction to Lavrov in Bali could also provide an indication of how G20 members might react if Putin attends the group’s November summit meeting in person, which is yet to be confirmed.

The Indonesian president, until recently inactive on foreign policy issues, has come to view his handling of the group’s chairmanship as a defining moment of his presidency, said Murray Hiebert, an expert on Southeast Asia. Is at CSIS.

“Jokowi is desperately hoping to avoid a diplomatic train wreck if Putin shows up in November,” he said.

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Reporting by Alexander Ratz in Berlin, David Brunnstrom in Washington and Kate Lamb in Sydney; Editing by Ed Davies and Raju Gopalakrishnan

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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