G20 finance ministers are scheduled to meet next week in Bali.

Not 'business as usual' for G20 foreign ministers meeting in Bali

G20 finance ministers are scheduled to meet next week in Bali

July 6 (Reuters) - G20 foreign ministers will meet this week on the resort island of Bali, which will be overshadowed by the conflict in Ukraine, with Russia's presence causing a rift in the bloc as host Indonesia attempts to mediate. The Group of 20 includes Western countries that have accused Moscow of war crimes in Ukraine and have imposed sanctions. Likewise, China, Indonesia, India, and South Africa have not followed suit.


The meeting will be the first time foreign ministers from some of the world's most powerful economies have met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov since Russia's February invasion of Ukraine. Speaking ahead of the G20 meeting, German Foreign Ministry spokesperson Christian Wagner stated that it would not be a "normal summit" or "business as usual." Germany, which currently holds the presidency of the Group of Seven industrialized nations, said in Bali that they would coordinate how to respond to Lavrov in light of the conflict in Ukraine.


During a G20 finance meeting in Washington in April, top officials from the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States walked out on Russian representatives. According to a US State Department spokesperson, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will be an active participant in the meeting while "also remaining true to another overarching objective, which is the fact that it cannot be business as usual with the Russian Federation." Blinken will meet with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Bali, but no meeting with Lavrov is planned. As G20 chair this year, Indonesia has been caught in the middle of a geopolitical storm over the war, attempting to stave off boycott threats from Western countries. Following the meeting of foreign ministers, the G20 finance ministers are scheduled to meet.


President Joko Widodo embarked on an ambitious peace-brokering mission last week, visiting Kyiv and Moscow to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin in an attempt to leverage Indonesia's neutrality. The president, widely known as Jokowi, has invited Ukraine to the G20 this year, has attempted to persuade Russia to lift a blockade on grain exports that is fueling a global food crisis, and has offered Indonesia as a "diplomatic bridge" between the countries. Vasyl Hamianin, Ukraine's ambassador to Indonesia said his country's foreign minister would deliver a virtual address at the Bali meeting.


According to Max Bergmann, a Russia and Europe expert and former senior US State Department official, Western leaders ultimately decided that ceding the floor to Russia would be counter-productive. "If you don't show up, and the Russians have the floor with some really critical countries like Indonesia, India, and others, then they're making their arguments unopposed," said Bergmann, who now works at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.


According to Ramin Toloui, the United States' assistant secretary of state for economic and business affairs, food and energy will be prominent topics at the meeting. "G20 countries should hold Russia accountable and insist that it support ongoing United Nations efforts to reopen grain delivery sea lanes," he said. During a visit to Vietnam on Wednesday, Russia's Lavrov urged all parties to work together to protect international laws because "the world is evolving in a complicated way."


His remarks ahead of his arrival in Bali come as Western countries accuse Russia of violating international law with its invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow describes as a "special operation." The reaction to Lavrov in Bali may also provide an indication of how G20 members will react if Putin attends the group's summit meeting in person in November, which has yet to be confirmed. According to Murray Hiebert, a Southeast Asia expert at CSIS, the Indonesian president, who was not normally very active on foreign policy issues until recently, has come to see his handling of the group's presidency as a defining moment in his presidency. "If Putin shows up in November, Jokowi desperately hopes to avoid a diplomatic train wreck," he said.



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