Yellen: Russian representatives have no place at G20 meeting in Bali

Arie Firdaus and Alvin Prasetyo
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Yellen: Russian representatives have no place at G20 meeting in Bali U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen speaks during a news conference in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, July 14, 2022.
[Firdia Lisnawati/AP]

Russia does not deserve to be at this week’s G20 finance ministers’ meeting, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Thursday in Bali, without disclosing whether she planned to walk out during a speech by Moscow’s representative to the event.

Speaking to reporters at the venue of the Friday-Saturday meeting, Yellen said it “cannot be business as usual with respect to Russia’s participation at these meetings,” because Moscow had flouted international law by invading Ukraine.

“And I can tell you that I certainly expect to express in the strongest possible terms my views on Russia’s invasion … the war against Ukraine, and I certainly intend to talk about its impact on Ukraine and on the entire global economy and to condemn it,” the American official said.

“Representatives of the [Vladimir] Putin regime have no place at this forum. We stand firmly with the people of Ukraine and I look forward to welcoming the Ukrainian finance minister to this G20 meeting tomorrow.”

As a Russian official addressed a G20 meeting in Washington on April 20, Yellen and her British, Canadian and Ukrainian counterparts walked out to protest the Feb. 24 “special military operation” in Ukraine by Russia.

Like it did back then, Indonesia, the 2022 chair of the group of the world’s 20 leading economies, has invited all its members to attend the meeting, including Russia, while Ukraine has been invited as a guest. 

The Russian and Ukrainian ministers will attend virtually according to Indonesian officials, the Reuters news agency reported.

The meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bank chiefs will come a week after an eventful meeting of the group’s foreign ministers. That gathering saw Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov walk out – at least once – during what he called the “frenzied castigation” of Moscow.

Retno Marsudi, the chief diplomat of host country Indonesia, said participants at the G20 Foreign Ministers’ meeting were deeply concerned about the Ukrainian conflict’s “global impact on food, energy and finance.”

During her remarks on Thursday, Yellen also said that Russia’s war in Ukraine was contributing to higher energy costs, food insecurity and hunger for the most vulnerable people worldwide.

“The international community must be clear-eyed in holding Putin accountable for the global economic and humanitarian consequences of his war. … A price cap on Russian oil is one of our most powerful tools to address the pain that Americans and families across the world are feeling at the gas pump and the grocery store right now,” she said.

The U.S. Treasury Secretary also criticized China, Russia’s ally in the war on Ukraine, for what she called its “non-market tactics” and the challenges it poses to emerging and developing economies.

“A key objective of this trip is to push G20 creditors, including China, to finalize debt restructuring for developing countries now facing distress,” Yellen said.

“But more needs to be done to help the most vulnerable and this is a key message I will be emphasizing at these G20 meetings given the deteriorating global economic conditions since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”

The United States, Yellen said, would provide a grant of U.S. $70 million to the IMF Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust to further enable the International Monetary Fund to make zero-interest loans to the world’s poorest economies.

Energy and food crises, as well as inflation, have been the most tangible effects of the conflict in Ukraine, according to Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, who spoke before her American counterpart.

“[So] we are calling on country leaders to deal with this inflation challenge together. This will also be an important discussion at the G20 meeting,” she said.

Earlier this week, Indonesia Central Bank Gov. Perry Warjiyo told Reuters that Indonesia hoped that a joint communiqué could be issued at the end of the meeting. But all members may not agree on what the economic impacts of the war are, so such a communiqué may not be possible, sources told Reuters.

Perry said that if a communiqué is not possible, a chair’s statement summarizing the outcomes of the meeting would be issued.

“We hope for the best, but of course prepare for the worst,” he told Reuters.


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