The last meeting of G20 finance ministers highlighted the differences between the world’s largest economies.
Senior representatives of the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada refused to attend meetings with Russia, which took place on Wednesday as part of the meeting of finance ministers of the G20 countries in Washington. Many members of the G20 have come out to condemn the war that Moscow is waging in Ukraine, which has revealed serious differences that exist among the world’s largest economies.
Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Indrawati, who chaired the G20 finance ministers’ meeting in Washington, acknowledged that the organization faced unprecedented challenges, but called for cooperation to overcome the obstacles slowing global growth.
“This is an extraordinary situation,” Indrawati told reporters after the meeting. “The situation is not usual; everything is very dynamic and complicated.”
The G20 includes leading Western powers that have accused Moscow of war crimes in Ukraine, as well as China, India, Indonesia and South Africa, which have not joined the sanctions announced by the West against Russia in connection with the conflict.
Indrawati said that many countries spoke out against the war at the meeting, although she did not specify which states were in question.
“In order for us to recover together, we need more and even closer cooperation,” Indrawati said at a press briefing. “The G20 is still the main forum for all of us, where we can discuss and talk about all issues.”
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told those present that she strongly disapproved of the presence of a senior Russian official at the meeting before leaving the meeting, two sources told Reuters
She was joined by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey, Canadian Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde.
Ukrainian officials also left the meeting, a source familiar with the event said.
Moscow was personally represented at the meeting by Russian Deputy Finance Minister Timur Maksimov, and Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov and the governor of the Central Bank of Russia joined the meeting virtually, a second source said.
The Ministry of Finance of Russia did not mention in its statement the boycott of representatives of Western powers. A statement released after the meeting said that Siluanov called on the G20 not to politicize the dialogue between the member countries of the association and stressed that the group has always been focused on solving economic problems.
He also mentioned the detrimental impact of Western sanctions, the statement said.
“Another aspect of the current crisis is the undermining of confidence in the existing international monetary and financial system,” the report says. “The safety of international reserves and the possibility of free trade and financial transactions are no longer guaranteed.”
Lagarde urged Maximov to convey a clear message to Moscow – to stop the war in Ukraine, one of the sources said.
Finance ministers and central bank governors of the G20 met as part of a regular conference held every six months by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank in Washington. During the meeting, the war in Ukraine, food security and the ongoing recovery of the global economy after the coronavirus pandemic were discussed.
Given the differences, the group did not publish the final communique. Instead, Indrawati read out a statement summarizing the meeting and emphasizing the importance of the G20.
Chrystia Freeland, an ethnic Ukrainian who spoke at the meeting with calls to end the war in Ukraine on behalf of Canada, said she left the G20 plenary meeting in protest against Russia’s participation.
“This week’s meetings in Washington are dedicated to supporting the global economy, and Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine poses a serious threat to the global economy,” she wrote on Twitter, adding that Russia should not participate in such events.