Russia isolated at G20 as Lavrov storms out of talks

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6:15pm: G20 does not present united stand against Russian invasion

At the meeting of G20 foreign ministers in Bali, Indonesia, some of the staunchest critics of the invasion of Ukraine confronted their Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov.

High on their list of concerns was getting grain shipments from Ukraine out through ports blocked by Russia’s presence in the Black Sea and naval mines.

But FRANCE 24’s Armen Georgian explains G20 members are not all on the same page when it comes to punishing Russia for its act of aggression against a neighbouring state. For one, the G20 “is not a permanent institution, it cannot issue legally binding resolutions,” Georgian explained. “It can make political declarations and then it’s up to members to implement them as they see fit. It can only urge an end to the Ukrainian grain crisis.”

Within the G20, the BRICKS grouping members have not lined up against Russia, said Georgian. Brazil, India, China and South Africa represent 42 percent of the world’s population and countries like India and China are “seen as having lined up with Russia”, he explained.

3:25pm: Putin warns sanctions may spark ‘catastrophic’ energy price rise

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that continued use of sanctions against Russia could lead to catastrophic price rises on energy markets, hitting households across Europe with much higher prices for energy.

“Yes, we know that the Europeans are trying to replace Russian energy resources,” Putin said at a televised meeting with senior officials. “However, we expect the result of such actions to be an increase in gas prices on the spot market,” he added.

“All this once again shows that sanctions restrictions on Russia cause much more damage to those countries that impose them. Further use of sanctions may lead to even more severe, without exaggeration, even catastrophic consequences on the global energy market,” he said.

1:55pm: Ukraine’s Kramatorsk readies for Russian assault

Shells are raining down steadily on Kramatorsk and its twin city, Sloviansk, which are poised to become the next frontline in Moscow’s Donbas offensive.

Their defenders are outgunned, but Ukrainians have repelled Russian-backed forces there before, the cities having been seized by pro-Kremlin separatists in April 2014 and recaptured three months later.

Selina Sykes has the story.

11:45am: Russia not interested in G20 dialogue, says German FM

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has criticised Moscow for blocking dialogue with international partners after diplomats said her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov walked out of her speech at the G20 gathering.

Speaking to German television, Baerbock said Lavrov “left the first session halfway through” and skipped a second session “which shows even more clearly that he’s not interested in international cooperation or dialogue with the other G19 partners”.

Lavrov later also ditched an afternoon session before a virtual appearance by Ukraine’s foreign minister and was not present as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned Russia in the closed-door meeting in Bali, diplomats said.

“It underscores that the Russian government is not showing a millimetre of willingness to talk, particularly on the important question of how we will grapple with the global food crisis,” Baerbock said.

The German minister said although the remaining 19 countries had differing views on “Russia’s war of aggression”, they were “very clear in appealing to Russia that this war must end”.

10:45am: Ukraine accuses Russia of playing ‘hunger games’

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister has accused Russia of playing “hunger games” and said it has “no place at any international fora” during a virtual address to the G20 summit in Bali.

Dmytro Kuleba said the international community had no right to allow Russia to blackmail the world with high energy prices, hunger and security threats, according to a statement from his office.

10:02am: Blinken called on Russia to let Ukrainian grain out during G20 meeting, says Western official

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken addressed Russia directly at the G20 foreign ministers meeting in Bali and called on Moscow to let Ukrainian grain get out to the world, a Western offical said.

Blinken spoke at a plenary session of the meeting, which was focused on food and energy insecurity, said the official, who did not want to be otherwise identified.

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

Ukraine has seen its production blocked by Moscow’s military offensive, sparking a surge in prices that has particularly affected poor countries.

Moscow says it would allow Ukrainian ships loaded with food products to leave if the Ukrainian military demined its ports, an option rejected by Kyiv, which fears for the safety of its Black Sea coast.

9:57am: US asks Russia to recognise fighters held in Ukraine as combatants

Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Friday the United States had asked that US fighters detained in Ukraine be recognised as combatants, the Interfax news agency reported.

9:15am: No let-up in artillery fire on Donbas front line

Russian forces continue to pound Ukrainian positions with artillery bombardment, a day after Moscow said its troops had been given time to rest, FRANCE 24’s Gulliver Cragg reports from Kyiv.

“The Ukrainian armed forces say this morning that the Russians had some small success in advancing quite near the town of Siversk, west of Lysychansk. But in all other directions their attempts to advance towards the cities of Slaviansk and Kramatorsk were pushed back,” Cragg reports.

Foreign analysts say Russia may be temporarily easing its offensive in eastern Ukraine as it reassembles its forces after securing an unexpectedly swift victory in the battleground city of Lysychansk.

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned menacingly on Thursday that his forces “haven’t even started” to fight.

8:30am: Lavrov dismisses West’s ‘frenzied’ criticism of Russia

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has dismissed Western criticism of the war in Ukraine at the G20 meeting, scolding Russia’s rivals for scuppering a chance to tackle global economic issues.

“During the discussion, Western partners avoided following the mandate of the G20, from dealing with issues of the world economy,” Lavrov said.

He said the West’s discussion “strayed almost immediately, as soon as they took the floor, to the frenzied criticism of the Russian Federation in connection with the situation in Ukraine. ‘Aggressors’, ‘invaders’, ‘occupiers’ – we heard a lot of things today,” Lavrov said.

Earlier, host country Indonesia urged the G20 to help end the war in Ukraine at the start of a summit that has put some of the staunchest critics of Russia’s invasion in the same room as Moscow’s top diplomat.

Lavrov said Russia was ready to negotiate with Ukraine and Turkey about grain but it is unclear when such talks might take place.

4:29am: US, Russia’s top diplomats attend G20 meeting in Bali

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov joined their colleagues for the start of day-long talks, with Washington seeking to gain support from the world’s top economies to pressure Moscow over the invasion of its neighbour.

“It clearly cannot be business as usual when it comes to Russia’s involvement and engagement in enterprises like the G20,” a senior US official said ahead of the meeting.

In comments to open the meeting on the resort island of Bali, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi directly addressed the war.

“It is our responsibility to end the war sooner than later and settle our differences at the negotiating table, not the battlefield,” Marsudi said, with Lavrov in the room.

While in Bali, Blinken will also seek to reopen dialogue with Beijing in talks with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, the first in months after tensions strained over issues including Taiwan.

But Blinken is expected to shun a direct meeting with Lavrov, instead pointing the finger at Moscow for triggering global food and energy crises.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP and REUTERS)

© France Médias Monde graphic studio

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