G20 members condemn Russia’s war in Ukraine, after Yellen and others walkout

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WASHINGTON/LONDON, April 20 (Reuters) – Senior officials from Britain, the United States and Canada walked out on Russian representatives at a Group of 20 meeting on Wednesday and many members spoke to condemn Moscow’s war in Ukraine, exposing deep divisions within the bloc of major economies.

Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, who chaired the meeting of G20 finance leaders in Washington, acknowledged that the body faces unprecedented challenges, but called for cooperation to overcome the headwinds that slow down global growth.

“It’s an extraordinary situation,” Indrawati told reporters after the day-long meeting. “It’s not business as usual, it’s a very dynamic and challenging company.”

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The G20 includes Western countries that have accused Moscow of war crimes in Ukraine, as well as China, India, Indonesia and South Africa that have not joined Western-led sanctions against the Russia because of the conflict.

Indrawati said many countries spoke out against the war at the meeting, although she did not identify them.

“For us to recover together…we need more and even stronger cooperation,” Indrawati told a briefing. “The G20 is always… the premier forum for all of us to be able to discuss and talk about all issues.”

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told attendees she strongly disapproved of a senior Russian official attending the meeting before he left, two sources told Reuters.

She was accompanied by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey, Canadian Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde.

Ukrainian officials, in Washington seeking billions of dollars in additional funding, also walked out of the meeting, a source familiar with the meeting said.

Russian Deputy Finance Minister Timur Maksimov represented Moscow in person, while Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov and Russia’s central bank governor joined virtually, a second source said.

More than five million Ukrainians have fled abroad since Russia invaded on February 24, the biggest attack on a European state since 1945.

The United States accuses Russia of committing war crimes in what Moscow calls a “special military operation”. Russia denies the allegations. Read more

NO ‘BUSINESS AS USUAL’

A source added that Yellen told attendees that there could be ‘no status quo’ for Russia in the global economy, a view shared by Indrawati, whose government leads the G20 group this year. . Read more

UK Finance Minister Rishi Sunak said in a tweet: “We are united in our condemnation of Russia’s war on Ukraine and will push for stronger international coordination to punish Russia.”

The Russian Finance Ministry did not mention the walkout in a statement released after the meeting. He quoted Siluanov as calling on the G20 not to politicize dialogue among members and stressing that the group had always focused on the economy.

He also complained about the adverse effect of Western sanctions, the statement said.

“Another aspect of the current crisis is the shaking of confidence in the existing international monetary and financial system,” he said. “The security of international reserves and the possibility of free trade and financial transactions are no longer guaranteed.”

Lagarde urged Maksimov to deliver a clear message to Moscow – to end the war in Ukraine, one of the sources said.

Finance ministers and central bank governors from the G20 met on the sidelines of a biannual conference hosted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank in Washington, D.C., on the war in Ukraine, food security and recovery ongoing after the coronavirus pandemic as key topics.

Given the divisions, the group did not publish a press release. Instead, Indrawati read a statement summarizing the meeting and emphasizing the importance of the body.

Freeland, who is of Ukrainian descent and has made impassioned pleas on behalf of the country, said she left a G20 plenary meeting to protest Russia’s participation.

“This week’s meetings in Washington are about supporting the global economy – and Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine is a serious threat to the global economy,” she said on Twitter, adding that Russia should not participate.

FRAGMENTATION FEARS

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva acknowledged on Wednesday that it was a “difficult time” for the G20, a forum that has played a key role in coordinating the fight against COVID-19 and the response to the financial crisis of 2008-2009.

But she said cooperation through the forum would continue.

“There are clearly very, very disturbing facts that we have to face,” said Georgieva, a native Bulgarian. “But we also recognize how interdependent we are…And it’s so obvious that the cooperation must and will continue.”

Georgieva and Yellen warned of a fragmentation of the global economy into geopolitical blocs, with the United States and market democracies on one side and China, Russia and other state economies on the other.

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Reporting by Andrea Shalal and David Lawder in Washington, David Milliken in London and David Ljunggren in Ottawa; additional reporting by Steve Scherer in Ottawa; edited by Dan Burns and Paul Simao

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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