G20 finance officials walk out in protest of Russian attendance

Thursday, 21 April 2022 (10:50 IST)
Senior finance officials walked out of a G20 meeting in Washington, DC, on Wednesday in protest of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen led a multination boycott as Russian officials spoke. She was joined by Ukrainian, British, French and Canadian delegates.

As many attendees attended virtually, they turned their cameras off instead.

Finance ministers and central bank governors from the world's richest nations were meeting to discuss global challenges, such as rising debt and a looming food crisis. However, discussions have been dominated by Moscow's war of aggression.

The meeting came on the sidelines of a semiannual conference held by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

It was the first such meeting since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine.

G20 ministers protest

Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland shared a photo of attendees who walked out, saying: "The world's democracies will not stand idly by in the face of continued Russian aggression and war crimes."

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. pic.twitter.com/J67gU810sO

— Chrystia Freeland (@cafreeland) April 20, 2022

A UK spokesperson told the Reuters news agency: "We will continue working with our allies to condemn Russia's war against Ukraine in the strongest terms, and push for stronger international coordination to punish Russia."

Ahead of the walkout, Yellen reportedly told attendees that she disapproved of the presence of Russia's deputy finance minister, Timur Maksimov, who attended in person. Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov and Russia's central bank governor joined virtually

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire also called on Russian delegates not to attend sessions, saying "war is not compatible with international cooperation."

Ahead of the meeting, German Finance Minister Christian Lindner said Germany would try to find common ground, but added, "We will not provide a stage for Russia to spread propaganda and lies."

Russia decries politicized dialogue

After the incident, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov urged the G20 not to politicize dialogue between member states, saying they risked undermining confidence in the global monetary and financial system.

As Western nations pile pressure on Russia through sanctions, US President Joe Biden has called for the country to be expelled from the G20. However, Moscow still enjoys varying levels of support from China and India.

The G20 is chaired by Indonesia this year, and includes major economies such as the US, China, India, Brazil, Japan and several European countries, including Russia.

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said that, despite the tension, global cooperation "must and will continue," citing a long list of issues that "no country can solve on its own."

The global economy, in a COVID-induced downturn, has been hit by the Russian invasion and associated sanctions, driving up prices for food and fuel higher and lowering the global growth outlook.

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