Indonesian minister: G-20 walkout over Russia attendance won't erode cooperation

John Bechtel and Ika Inggas
2022.04.20
Washington
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Indonesian minister: G-20 walkout over Russia attendance won't erode cooperation Finance officials gather after walking out of the G-20 meeting in Washington to protest the war in Ukraine while a Russian official addressed the gathering, April 20, 2022. Those pictured include European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde (fourth from left); Canadian Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland (white jacket); U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen (purple top); and Ukrainian Finance Minister Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko (between Yellen and Freeland).
Government of Canada handout/AFP

Finance ministers from several nations, including Ukraine and the United States, walked out when Russian officials addressed a G-20 meeting convened by Indonesia in Washington on Wednesday, to protest Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said the meeting occurred under challenging circumstances – noting Russia’s war against Ukraine and its global economic impact.

Indonesia, the 2022 chair of the group of the world’s leading economies, had invited all its members to attend the meeting, including Russia, while Ukraine was invited as a guest. 

“Many members condemned the war as unprovoked and unjustifiable,” she told journalists participating in a virtual news conference after the meeting, which was not open to the public.

The walkout “is not a total surprise to all of us, especially for us as the chair,” she said. “I am confident this will not erode cooperation or the importance of the G-20 forum.”

“We were able to express the view of all members and invitees,” she said. “Even though there is a strong condemnation regarding the war in Ukraine … members actually underlined the need for us to be able to continue maintaining G-20 cooperation.”

Representatives of the United States, Great Britain, Canada and the Ukraine were among those who left the meeting. Agence France-Presse reported that some who were attending the meeting virtually turned off their cameras when the Russian delegate spoke.

Canadian Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, whose grandparents were born in Ukraine and who studied in Kyiv, questioned Russia’s involvement in the meeting in light of the ongoing invasion, which began in February.

“The world’s democracies will not stand idly by in the face of continued Russian aggression and war crimes. Today Canada and a number of our democratic partners walked out of the G20 plenary when Russia sought to intervene,” she tweeted.

“This week’s meetings in Washington are about supporting the world economy – and Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine is a grave threat to the global economy. Russia should not be participating or included in these meetings.”

The Associated Press reported that Ukraine Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko joined U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in walking out instead of listening to the Russian delegate.

Yellen last week warned that the United States would boycott G-20 meetings if Russian representatives attended.

U.S. President Joe Biden had “asked that Russia be removed from the G-20, and I’ve made clear to my colleagues in Indonesia that we will not be participating in a number of meetings if the Russians are there,” Yellen said at the time.

Earlier this month, foreign ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah said Indonesia was anticipating that all member countries would be represented at all G-20 meetings, including the group’s summit in Bali in November.

Reuters reported that a senior Russian official attended the Washington meeting while Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov participated virtually.

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Indonesia Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati leaves the room after the closing of the G-20 finance ministers and central bank governors meeting in Jakarta, Feb. 18, 2022. [AFP]

Speaking to reporters, Sri Mulyani noted that since the group’s first finance meeting in February, the global environment had deteriorated, even while the COVID-19 pandemic was not over yet.

She called Russia’s war with Ukraine a second pandemic which has wrought “a still very dynamic implication of the war, including extremely increased energy prices.”

“Some member used the term perfect storm. We are not over the pandemic situation – the recovery is still very fragile and very early. We were facing a supply disruption and now with the war, it is getting even more deteriorated.”

Russia said Wednesday its forces had launched 73 air strikes across Ukraine, and the strategic port of Mariupol appeared close to falling to Russia, AFP reported.

More than 5 million Ukrainians have fled abroad since Russia invaded on Feb. 24, the biggest attack on a European state since 1945, according to Reuters.

International economists have blamed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine for adding to inflation.  Earlier this month, Manila-based Asian Development Bank referred to the situation in Ukraine as it forecast inflation in the Philippines is likely to rise by 4.2 percent this year.

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