US, Canada condemn Russia’s war on Ukraine at G20 talks in Indonesia
Western finance ministers condemned Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine at G-20 talks in Indonesia on Friday, accusing Russian officials of complicity in wartime atrocities.
The two-day meeting on the island of Bali began in the shadow of a Russian military assault that rocked markets, pushed up food prices and fueled sky-high inflation, a week after the top diplomat of Moscow walked out of the talks with the forum’s foreign ministers.
“Russia is solely responsible for the negative fallout on the global economy,” US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told the Russian delegation during the opening session, according to a Treasury official.
“Russian officials should recognize that they are compounding the horrific consequences of this war by continuing to support Putin’s regime. You share responsibility for the innocent lives lost.”
She was joined by Canadian Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, who told the Russian delegation she was responsible for “war crimes” in Ukraine because of her support for the invasion, a Canadian official said.
“It’s not just generals who commit war crimes, it’s economic technocrats who allow war to happen and continue,” Freeland said, according to the official.
Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov and Ukrainian Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko participate in the meeting virtually.
Moscow instead sent Russian Deputy Finance Minister Timur Maksimov to attend the talks in person. He was present for both Yellen’s and Freeland’s sentencing, according to a source present at the talks.
G-20 host and chair Indonesia warned ministers that failure to tackle the energy and food crises would be catastrophic.
In her opening address, Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati called on ministers to work together in a spirit of “cooperation” because “the world is waiting” for solutions.
“The cost of our failure is more than we can afford,” she told delegates. “The humanitarian consequences for the world and for many low-income countries would be catastrophic.”
The meeting largely focused on the food and energy crises weighing on an already fragile global recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“(Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s actions, including the destruction of agricultural facilities, the theft of grain and agricultural equipment, and the effective blockade of Black Sea ports, amount to using food as a weapon of war,” he said. said Yellen during an afternoon seminar.
Indrawati said members had “identified the urgent need for the G-20 to take concrete action” to address food insecurity and help countries in need.
Yellen is also lobbying G-20 allies for a cap on Russian oil prices to choke off Putin’s war chest and pressure Moscow to end its invasion while cutting energy costs. .
In April, Yellen led a multinational strike by finance officials as Russian delegates spoke at a G-20 meeting in Washington, but there was no such action on Friday.
A final statement is unlikely to be issued when the talks end on Saturday due to disagreements with Russia.
Indonesia, chair of the G-20, which pursues a neutral foreign policy, has refrained from disinviting Russia despite Western pressure.
“We must act together to demonstrate why the G-20 deserves its reputation as the premier forum for international cooperation,” Indrawati said.
Alongside ministers from Moscow and Kyiv, Chinese Finance Minister Liu Kun and Britain’s new Finance Minister Nadhim Zahawi were only in attendance virtually.
The head of the International Monetary Fund, Kristalina Georgieva, will appear in person after saying on Wednesday that the global economic outlook had “darkened considerably” due to the invasion of Moscow.
European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde will attend virtually, but World Bank Managing Director David Malpass will not attend.
The meeting is a prelude to the leaders’ summit on the Indonesian island in November, which was expected to focus on global recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Other issues discussed by ministers included digital financial inclusion – with more than a billion of the world’s population still without access to a bank account – and the deadline for an overhaul of international tax rules.