G20 ministers end food talks amid Russia-West barbs

Foreign ministers of the Group of 20 Major Economies on Friday ended their two-day meeting on food and energy shortages and price increases as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine without any agreement amid barbs between Moscow and Western countries.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, who chaired the G-20 meeting on the Indonesian island of Bali, said at a news conference that “some members condemned the act of invasions” while refraining from naming specific countries.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken attends a gathering of a group of 20 on the Indonesian island of Bali on July 8, 2022. (kyodo)

But Retno referred to Russia’s war against Ukraine, saying: “There is strong pressure from many participants for an immediate end to the war and a peaceful resolution of conflicts through diplomacy and negotiations.”

β€œThe world must now also address the impact of the war in Ukraine,” she said of the food and energy crisis.

While she expressed hope that member states could use the meeting to build bridges and build confidence, the barbs of Moscow and Washington during the talks showed deep rifts between them as Russia continues its invasion and as the United States, European nations and Japan have taken steps. to step up their economic sanctions against Russia.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov left the G-20 foreign ministers’ meeting earlier Friday, according to a source with European countries, because he told reporters the discussion about Ukraine is nonsensical as long as Western countries hope for his victory.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov attends a meeting of a group of 20 on the Indonesian island of Bali on July 8, 2022. (kyodo)

After Lavrov left the room of a session on multilateralism, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken addressed Russia directly, according to a Western nation official, saying: “Ukraine is not your country. The grain is not your grain. Why are you blocking The Ports?”

For Lavrov, the G-20 meeting is the first opportunity to attend a multilateral event involving Blinken and other foreign ministers from the Group of Seven countries since the invasion of Ukraine began in late February.

The G-7 has said Russia is responsible for the food shortage, arguing that the country is arming its food supply while trying to blame the crisis on sanctions imposed by the West.

Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said during a session on multilateralism that it is important for the international community to unite against Russia’s “violent acts” and make Moscow pay “a heavy price” for its actions, it said. ministry.

Hayashi also said that “many other countries” besides Japan “have strongly condemned Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, pointing out that its actions have undermined the foundations of the international order and multilateralism,” blaming Russia for the food shortages. and energy issues.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, who was virtually an invitee to the talks, also criticized Russia after Lavrov ran away.

“We have no right to allow Russia to further blackmail the world through high energy prices, hunger and security threats,” he said.

According to sources aware of the matter, a usual group photo of the ministers was not taken, as it reflected ill-feeling towards Russia.

At the meeting of G-20 finance ministers and central bank governors in Washington in April, US, Canadian and European delegations walked out when Russian officials, including Finance Minister Anton Siluanov who virtually joined, at the were about to speak. Japan did not participate in the gesture.

While G-7 delegates had said they had no intention of leaving the room while Lavrov speaks Friday, top G-7 diplomats were boycotting a dinner Thursday night, the first event of the two-day meeting, according to US and Japanese government officials. according to Retno.

The G-20 – made up of the G-7 plus high-growth economies – has been split among countries that have not joined punitive US-led measures during the crisis in Ukraine, which includes China, India and Indonesia.

Fears of food shortages are mounting in some African and Middle Eastern countries that depend on grain exports from Ukraine, a major producer whose agricultural infrastructure has been destroyed by Russian attacks. Moscow has also blocked its ports on the Black Sea, preventing shipments of crops.

Meanwhile, at the beginning of the press conference, Retno offered her nation “deepest condolences and condolences” to former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, following news of his death earlier Friday after being shot during a stump speech in western Japan.

Including the G-7 — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States plus the European Union — the G-20 also groups Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea and Turkey.

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