Photograph of the Canadian government posing with Canadian Finance Minister Christiaan Freeland (center) with colleagues and central bankers who left the G20 whole group to protest Russia’s presence in a forum in Washington (Government of Canada / Guide) on April 20, 2022.
The G20’s finance ministers and central bankers met on Wednesday on the sidelines of meetings of the IMF and the World Bank, either leaving the full session or closing their screens to oppose Russia’s presence.
The Indonesian presidency has been pressing for Moscow to withdraw from the G20 in response to the invasion of Ukraine. However, she refused to do so in the name of impartiality.
“War is not compatible with cooperation,” French Economy Minister Bruno Le Myre said in his opening remarks, urging Russia to “refrain from participating in the G20 summits.”
“The G20 has always been an economic forum,” said Anton Silvanov, his Russian envoy.
The organization unites the twenty major world economies, including the United States, Canada, China, India, Brazil, Japan, France and Germany.
As Moscow failed to get a waiver, ministers, including US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, decided to boycott sessions where Russian officials were to speak.
“The meetings in Washington this week are aimed at supporting the world economy and Russia’s illegal occupation of Ukraine is a major threat to the world economy,” Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Christiaan Freeland tweeted.
“Russia should not participate or be included in these meetings,” he added, adding that he had also released a photo showing Western officials “leaving the G20 Plenary when Russia tried to intervene.”
“Several finance ministers and central bankers, including (…) (Janet) Yellen, walked out when Russia began to speak,” a source close to the US delegation had previously confirmed. “In fact other ministers and governors turned off their cameras.”
It is reported that the British delegation left the room in London as well.
The incident did not disrupt the discussions, however, Indonesian Finance Minister Shri Mulyani Indravati assured at a press conference.
G7 ministers have also received information that Ukrainian Finance Minister Sergei Marchenko is attending the meeting, although he is not a member of the G20.
– Tribune to Moscow? –
German Finance Minister Christian Lindner in Berlin on March 31, 2022 (POOL / Tobias SCHWARZ)
On the contrary, German Finance Minister Christian Lindner backed Berlin’s willingness to attend all sessions, including one in the presence of Russian officials.
“We will not provide a platform for Russia to spread its propaganda and lies,” he told reporters in Washington, where the G20 meeting is being held with some of his colleagues, while others have opted for virtual mode.
According to a source close to the German delegation, Mr. Lindner “seriously challenged” the position of the Russian authorities.
This is the first time the G20’s bigwigs have met since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
They parted ways on February 18 in Jakarta, Indonesia, on the promise of coordination for a “strong” global recovery. On the contrary, the Russian offensive has obscured the outlook, exacerbating inflation and causing a food crisis.
The Russian minister has blamed sanctions. “Obviously, with restrictions, market supply is artificially controlled, which leads to imbalances and sharp rises in prices,” he said.
International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva urged countries to continue their cooperation despite tensions.
“Members have underlined the key role of the G20 as the primary forum for economic cooperation,” the Indonesian minister said.
Countries have a lot to do as global growth is threatened: the IMF expects only 3.6% this year and expects a sharp recession if war and sanctions worsen.
Prior to the G20, the IMF and the World Bank called for the essentials of these meetings not to be forgotten: to ensure food security and to implement the G20’s “general framework” to restructure poor countries’ debt.
Shri Mulyani Indravati noted that there have been many discussions on the transparency of the loan. “Some member states have called for a more reliable, predictable and timely mechanism.”
However, due to the low participation of China, the main lender of poor countries, the implementation of this framework is slipping.