US leads G20 boycott against Russian finance officials


Washington, United States ●
Thu 21 April 2022

Indonesia, G20, Sri-Mulyani, Russia, Ukraine, Janet-L-Yellen

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen led a multinational group of finance chiefs on Wednesday as Russian officials spoke at a G20 meeting, in the latest protest by Western nations against the invasion of the Ukraine by Moscow.

Russia’s attack on its neighbor loomed large over the meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors from the world’s most developed nations, the first since President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion in late February.

British and Canadian officials also took part in the boycott, officials confirmed, pointing to boiling tensions at the rally called to address global challenges such as rising debt and a possible food crisis.

“Several finance ministers and central bank governors, including Ukraine’s finance minister (Sergiy Marchenko) and secretary Yellen stepped down when Russia started talking at the G20 meeting,” a source told AFP. source close to the event.

“Some finance ministers and central bank governors who were virtual turned off their cameras when Russia spoke.”

Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland tweeted a photo of the officials leaving the meeting, saying, “The world’s democracies will not stand idly by in the face of continued Russian aggression and war crimes.”

At the meeting, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire called on Russian delegates to refrain from attending the sessions, saying “war is not compatible with international cooperation”.

The Group of 20, chaired this year by Indonesia, includes major economies such as the United States, China, India, Brazil, Japan and several countries in Europe, including Russia.

“Very important forum”

Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, who chaired the meeting, said the walkout was done “without disturbing…our discussion” on the substance of the agenda.

“All members see the G20 as a very important forum,” she told reporters. “I am therefore convinced that this will not erode the cooperation or the role of the G20.”

Ahead of the meeting, German Finance Minister Christian Lindner said the country, which chairs the G7 group of liberal democracies, would try to find common ground, but ruled out providing “a stage for Russia to spread propaganda and lies”. He did not join the walkout.

Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov attended the meeting virtually, and “called on the partners to avoid politicizing the dialogue and underlined that the G20 has always been and remains first and foremost an economic format”, his ministry said. in a press release.

Finance officials gather on the sidelines of the World Bank and IMF spring meetings in Washington.

Despite the friction, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said global cooperation “must and will continue”, pointing to multiple issues that “no country can solve alone”.

Georgieva, who heads a 189-member institution, told reporters: “I can attest to the fact that it’s more difficult when there’s tension, but it’s not impossible.”

The woes of debt

Meetings in Washington focus on how to help the global economy recover from the new shock caused by the Russian invasion, which has driven up food and fuel prices and caused the IMF to lower its outlook global growth at 3.6% for this year.

Western nations retaliated against the bloody incursion with sanctions designed to damage the Russian economy and turn it into a pariah state.

US President Joe Biden has proposed kicking Russia out of the G20.

But Mark Sobel, a former Treasury official who is now U.S. chairman of the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum, said AFP there was no obvious mechanism to launch Moscow, which is to varying degrees supported by China and India.

“I think it really raises a fundamental question about how you’re going to handle global governance,” he said of the tensions.

The divide also bodes ill for the common G20 framework created during the pandemic to help heavily indebted countries find a way to restructure their bonds, which Sobel says is “struggling” as China and sector creditors private are dragging their feet to participate.

Mary I. Bruner