Russia’s foreign minister is shunned, but not by all, at a G20 gathering.

Source: www.nytimes.com : 2022-07-08 11:39:34 : Michael Crowley

NUSA DUA, Indonesia — He was a skunk at the tropical resort party, shunned by many, though not by all.

Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, attended a meeting of finance ministers from the Group of 20 industrialized nations in Bali on Friday, despite his country’s pariah status in Europe and beyond over its brutal war in Ukraine.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken declined to meet with him, as did several other Western officials. Few agreed even to pose with him for customary photographs.

But in a reflection of why Russia’s economy continues to function, Mr. Lavrov did meet directly with several ministers from major nations that have declined to join the Western-led coalition against his country, including those from China, India, Brazil, Turkey, Argentina and Indonesia.

In remarks at a plenary session focused on food and energy insecurity, Mr. Blinken took indirect aim at Mr. Lavrov and his colleagues in Moscow, renewing charges that Russia’s Black Sea blockade of Ukrainian ports was preventing the export of vital grain supplies.

“To our Russian colleagues: Ukraine is not your country,” Mr. Blinken said. “Its grain is not your grain. Why are you blocking the ports? You should let the grain out.” He noted that the United States had committed more than $5 billion to addressing the problem.

A Western official said that Mr. Lavrov was not present for Mr. Blinken’s remarks, having walked out just before Ukraine’s foreign minister spoke earlier in the session, leaving the speaking role to a subordinate who said she did not have prepared remarks. Mr. Lavrov also walked out of a previous group session during remarks by Germany’s foreign minister.

But in remarks to reporters, the famously sardonic Russian diplomat was defiant.

Mr. Lavrov said that “blatant Russophobia” was causing Western nations to allow harm to the global economy through sanctions against his country, and he blamed the United States for a breakdown in diplomacy between Washington and Moscow.

The Russian diplomat said that Western nations like the United States were acting contrary to the Group of 20’s mission of promoting global economic health by maintaining their enormous sanctions on his country.

“The fact that they are not using the G20 for the objective that it was established for is obvious,” he said.

The Treasury Department placed sanctions on Mr. Lavrov immediately after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, calling him “directly responsible” for the military assault.

On Friday, he dismissed any notion that he was disappointed not to speak with Mr. Blinken, with whom he last spoke during a mid-January meeting in Geneva that American officials saw as a last-ditch effort to head off an invasion.

“It was not us who abandoned all contacts, it was the United States,” Mr. Lavrov said. “And we are not running after anybody suggesting meetings. If they don’t want to talk, it’s their choice. I didn’t think it was necessary to start any confrontation.”

Mr. Lavrov also took an opportunity on Friday to disparage Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain, a day after Mr. Johnson said he would resign from his post. Mr. Johnson had led one the West’s most aggressive responses toward Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“They were trying to establish this new alliance — the U.K., the Baltics, Poland and Ukraine,” Mr. Lavrov said, calling it an attempt to create “an English bridgehead on the continent” after Britain’s exit from the European Union.

“They were saying that NATO isolated Russia,” Mr. Lavrov said. “It was his party that isolated Boris Johnson.”

India’s foreign minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, who was seen strolling and chatting with Mr. Lavrov through the luxury hotel that hosted the gathering, said on Twitter that he and Mr. Lavrov had “exchanged views on contemporary regional and international issues including the Ukraine conflict and Afghanistan.” India has friendly relations with Moscow, a longtime patron and source of arms sales, and has helped Russia weather sanctions by increasing its purchases of Russian oil, at a significant discount.



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