Canadian government photo showing Canadian Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland (center) with her counterparts and central bank governors exiting the G20 plenary to protest Russia’s attendance at the forum, April 20, 2022 in Washington (Government of Canada/Statement)
Finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of Twenty, who met on Wednesday on the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings, either left the plenum or closed their screens in protest of Russia’s presence.
The Indonesian presidency has come under pressure to exclude Moscow from the G-20 in response to its invasion of Ukraine. But she refused to do so, claiming neutrality.
“War is incompatible with cooperation,” French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said in his opening speech, urging Russia to “refrain from participating in the G20 meetings.”
His Russian counterpart, Anton Siluanov, responded, “The G20 has always been and will always be, above all, an economic forum.”
This body comprises twenty major world economies including the United States, Canada, China, India, Brazil, Japan, France, and Germany.
Ministers, including US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, decided to boycott sessions where Russian officials were scheduled to speak.
“This week’s meetings in Washington are aimed at supporting the global economy and the illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine poses a serious threat to the global economy,” Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland wrote on Twitter.
She added, “Russia should not participate or be included in these meetings,” and also posted a photo of Western officials who “left the G20 plenary when Russia sought to intervene.”
A source close to the US delegation confirmed earlier that “several finance ministers and central bank governors, including (…) (Janet) Yellen pulled out when Russia started talking.” And other ministers and governors, virtual, turned off their cameras.”
In London it is also indicated that the British representatives have left the hall.
The incident took place “without disturbing” the discussions, however Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Indonesia’s Finance Minister confirmed during a press conference.
The G7 ministers also got Ukraine’s Finance Minister Sergei Marchenko to participate in this meeting even though Ukraine is not a member of the G20.
– Tribune to Moscow? –
German Finance Minister Christian Lindner on March 31, 2022 in Berlin (POOL / Tobias SCHWARZ)
In turn, German Finance Minister Christian Lindner defended Berlin’s desire to participate in all sessions, including those attended by Russian officials.
“We will not provide a platform for Russia to spread its propaganda and lies,” he told reporters in Washington, where he is holding the G-20 meeting, with some of his counterparts, while others opted for the default.
According to a source close to the German delegation, Mr Lindner “vehemently challenged” the positions taken by Russian officials.
This is the first time that major G20 money makers have met since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.
They parted ways in Jakarta, Indonesia, on February 18, promising to coordinate for a “stronger” global recovery. On the contrary, the Russian attack clouded expectations, exacerbating inflation and causing a food crisis.
The Russian minister himself blamed the sanctions. “It is clear that with the sanctions the supply in the market has been artificially restricted, causing an imbalance and a sharp rise in prices,” he said.
The Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, Kristalina Georgieva, urged countries to continue their cooperation despite the tensions.
“The members stressed the crucial role of the G20 as the first forum for economic cooperation,” the Indonesian minister said.
Countries have a lot to do because global growth is under threat: The International Monetary Fund forecasts only 3.6% this year and expects a sharper slowdown if war and sanctions worsen.
Before the G20 meeting, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank called not to forget the basics of these meetings: ensuring food security and implementing the “common framework” of the G-20 for restructuring the debts of poor countries.
Sri Mulyani Indrawati noted that “there is a lot of discussion about transparency” of debt. “Some member states have called for a more credible, predictable and timely mechanism.”
But the implementation of this framework is being held back by the low participation of China, the main creditor of poor countries.