At the G20 meeting of the leading and emerging economic powers in Bali, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov caused an uproar. Lavrov left the room in the luxury hotel Mulia on Friday immediately after his speech and did not even listen to the comments of his critics. He then accused the West of preventing the transition to a peaceful solution to the conflict in Ukraine. If the EU and the US want Ukraine to win on the battlefield, “then we probably have nothing to discuss with the West,” he told reporters.
“Lawrov is still conducting bilateral talks, then he turns to the press and leaves,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told the German Press Agency on Friday. He therefore did not want to take part in the official meal or the afternoon session.
According to delegation circles, Lavrov also evaded the reply from Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens). Baerbock, as acting chair of the G7 group of leading democratic economic powers, was scheduled to be the next speaker after Lavrov. Shortly after arriving in Bali on Thursday evening, she said that in her speech she would “find very clear words that we do not accept this breach of international law”.
The Russian sat in the hall between representatives from Saudi Arabia and Mexico – far away from his harshest critics from the USA and Europe. He later said the West was urging Ukraine to “use its weapons” in the fighting. The minister criticized the fact that the representatives of Western countries denounced Russia as an “aggressor” and “occupier” because of the situation in Ukraine without looking at the reasons. “Everyone has called on us to end this operation,” he said. Lavrov, on the other hand, praised the G20 host Indonesia as a “responsible country” that respects a country’s sovereign rights.
Lavrov’s presence at the deliberations was also seen as a test for Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin’s possible participation in the G20 summit on November 15 and 16, which is also taking place in Bali. Several states have questioned their participation should Putin attend the summit in person.
When Lavrov was welcomed in the seaside resort of Nusa Dua, two German journalists called out questions to the minister. ZDF correspondent Andreas Kynast asked: “When do you stop the war?” Kynast was then taken out of the reception hall by Indonesian security officials. There were initially no further restrictions for him. A second German journalist called out to Lavrov: “Why don’t you stop the war?”
At the start of the meeting, hostess Retno Marsudi urgently called for an end to the war in Ukraine. “Our responsibility is to end the war as soon as possible. And to build bridges and not walls,” said the Indonesian Foreign Minister. The world’s largest island state currently chairs the G20 confederation of states.
After a trip by President Joko Widodo to Moscow and Kyiv at the end of June, Indonesia offered to mediate between the conflicting parties. Marsudi said in her opening speech that the group of states must use the meeting to build trust and “give peace a chance”. She urgently called for multilateralism, i.e. for cooperation between states in solving current political and social problems. “Global challenges require global solutions,” she said.