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Tensions between world leaders remained heightened Friday during talks with G20 nations in Bali, Indonesia as top economies look to address the biggest problems facing the globe.
Divisions between Western nations and the increasingly unified China-Russia front highlighted stark divisions and made effective diplomacy nil when it came to issues surrounding the war in Ukraine.
Russia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov walked out of proceedings twice reports said Friday, first when his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock began to speak and again when Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba appeared on video.
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Lavrov said the global food crisis – a major issue slated for the November summit and a result of Russia’s naval blockade in the Black Sea – was not the fault of Moscow.
“If the West doesn’t want talks to take place but wishes for Ukraine to defeat Russia on the battlefield – because both views have been expressed – then perhaps there is nothing to talk about with the West,” he said, according to a report by The Guardian.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Russian counterpart reportedly ignored each other outside the proceedings – which is the first time Lavrov has met with Western leaders since Russia’s deadly invasion of Ukraine in February.
“You know, it was not us who abandoned all contacts,” Lavrov told reporters. “It was the United States. And we are not running after anybody suggesting meetings. If they don’t want to talk, it’s their choice.”
Blinken reportedly directed pointed comments at Moscow during a closed-door meeting that Lavrov was not present for, accusing it of blocking millions of tons of grain and exacerbating a global food shortage.
Lavrov’s sit-in apparently did not have a rebuttal to Blinken’s comments and said she did not have prepared remarks, according to one anonymous diplomat who attended the meeting.
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This week’s talks were intended to lay the groundwork for a summit set to be hosted by Indonesia in November, but the rocky diplomatic relations have set an uncertain tone for the upcoming conference.
“The world has yet to recover from the pandemic, but we are already confronted with another crisis: the war in Ukraine,” Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said. “The ripple effects are being felt globally on food, on energy and physical space.”
However, officials appeared to make a point to show their disinterest in working with Russia so long as the country continues its war in Ukraine and said there would be no joint communiqué as in previous years.
Western officials apparently suggested they were focused on addressing food and energy shortages that have become a global problem following Moscow’s invasion and said they would work to establish bloc agreements to counter the growing global crises.
However, the tone of the talks were of little surprise following the stops made by Western nations and officials from Russia and China prior to the G20 meeting in Bali.
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Lavrov, along with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, reportedly stopped in several Asian capitals to rally support for their position and bolster their shared ties.
Blinken, along with his German, French and British counterparts have been meeting for months and attended NATO and G7 conferences over the last week.
The Indonesian host attempted to reign in the hostilities by reminding all attendees that the world is facing monumental crises that will have devastating effects if they are not remedied.
Developing nations in the G20, like Argentina, Brazil India and Indonesia, could also face steep consequences if relations between the West remained strained with Russia and China.
“Honestly, we cannot deny that it has become more difficult for the world to sit together,” Marsudi said. “The world is watching us, so we cannot fail.”
Reports surfaced Friday alleging that Western nations refused to attend a group dinner Thursday evening after learning that Lavrov would be attending.
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The customary group photo was also abandoned in a boycott allegedly led by Blinken and G7 members, according to a report by Politico EU.
Lavrov reportedly turned snappish when asked about the omitted group photo shoot and told reporters, “I didn’t invite anyone to pose for a photo together with me.”
“It’s obvious that they used the G20 for goals that weren’t envisaged when it was created,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.