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G20 hosts calls to end Ukraine war as Russia rejects criticism

G20 hosts calls to end Ukraine war as Russia rejects criticism

  • Russian foreign minister rejects ‘rabid’ criticism of war
  • Lavrov leaves during the virtual speech of the Ukrainian minister
  • Indonesia warns food prices will hit low-income countries even more
  • UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has made a short trip to Bali

NUSA DUA, Indonesia, July 8 (Reuters) – G20 host Indonesia urged the group’s foreign ministers on Friday to help end the war in Ukraine, with Russia’s top diplomat accusing the West of spoiling an opportunity to tackle “rabid” global economic issues. Criticize the conflict.

The war and its impact on the global economy cast a shadow over the meeting of G20 ministers in Bali, with senior officials from Western countries and Japan stressing that it would not be an “as usual” event.

Cries of “when will you stop the war” and “why not stop the war” were heard as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov shook hands with his Indonesian counterpart, Retno Marsudi, as he arrived for the meeting.

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Lavrov said that the ministers of Western countries “almost immediately got lost, as soon as they took the floor, to the frantic criticism of the Russian Federation regarding the situation in Ukraine.”

“Aggressors, ‘invaders’ and ‘occupiers’ – we heard a lot of things today,” Lavrov told reporters after the first session of talks in which he was seated between representatives from Mexico and Saudi Arabia.

Russia has confirmed that it has launched a “special military operation” to weaken the Ukrainian army and root out people it describes as dangerous nationalists.

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Ukraine and its Western backers say Russia is engaged in an empire-style land grab. They say that Russia has no justification for the invasion.

Retno called on the G20 to “find a way forward” to address global challenges and said the repercussions of the war, including higher energy and food prices, would hit low-income countries even more.

“It is our responsibility to end the war sooner rather than later and to settle our differences at the negotiating table, not on the battlefield,” Retno said at the opening of the talks.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said on the sidelines of the meeting that challenges related to rising food and energy costs were “significantly exacerbated by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine”.

A Western official said Blinkin confronted Russia during the plenary meeting over preventing the export and theft of Ukrainian grain.

“He addressed Russia directly, saying: to our Russian colleagues: Ukraine is not your country. Its grain is not your grain. Why are you closing the ports? You should let the grain out,” the official said.

The official said Lavrov was not in the room at the time.

Ukraine is struggling to export goods, with many of its ports closed as war rages along its southern coast. It is the fourth largest grain exporter in the world.

Lavrov later told reporters that Russia was ready to negotiate with Ukraine and Turkey over the grain, but it was not clear when such talks would take place.

‘New Cold War’

Ukraine’s ambassador to Indonesia said that the Ukrainian foreign minister addressed the meeting virtually, with Lavrov leaving the hall during his speech.

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Emphasizing the tensions in the run-up to the meeting, Retno said G7 counterparts had told her they were unable to join Thursday’s welcome dinner where Lavrov was present.

A senior Indonesian foreign ministry official told Reuters that a statement on Friday’s meeting was not expected.

It is important that the host “creates a comfortable atmosphere for everyone,” Retno said, noting that this was the first time since the invasion of Ukraine on February 24 that all the major players were seated in the same room.

On the sidelines of the meeting, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that Beijing opposes any action that would escalate the confrontation between the blocs and create a “new cold war.”

Friday’s agenda includes a closed-door meeting of top diplomats from G20 nations, including China, India, the United States, Brazil, Canada, Japan and South Africa, as well as bilateral talks on the sidelines.

For the first time in three years, the foreign ministers of China and Australia will hold talks on Friday, signaling an improvement in relations strained by allegations of foreign interference and retaliatory trade sanctions. Read more

Absent from Friday’s events was British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who was represented by Tim Barrow, the Foreign Office’s second permanent undersecretary. Media reports said Truss cut short her Bali trip shortly after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson resigned.

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Additional reporting by Ryan Wu in Beijing, Kirsty Needham in Sydney and Yudi Kahia Bodeman in Nusa Dua. Written by Kate Lamb. Editing by Martin Petty, Ed Davies and Raju Gopalakrishnan

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