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Russian FM rebukes ‘frenzied’ criticism of Russia at G20 meeting

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a meeting of G20 foreign ministers in Nusa Dua on the Indonesian resort island of Bali on July 8, 2022. (Photo by AFP)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has rebuked his Western counterparts after they harshly criticized Moscow during a meeting of G20 foreign ministers over its military campaign in Ukraine.

Speaking to reporters after the closed-door meeting on Friday, Lavrov said the West’s discussion “strayed almost immediately, as soon as they took the floor, to the frenzied criticism of the Russian Federation in connection with the situation in Ukraine.”

Calling the interaction “expectedly unproductive,” Lavrov said “‘Aggressors’, ‘invaders’, ‘occupiers’ – we heard a lot of things today. We are not running after anybody suggesting meetings.”

“Everyone is telling us to put an end to the operation and reach a peaceful solution. Despite the behavior of our Western colleagues, this is a useful discussion,” he added.

During the plenary, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused Russia of blocking the export of Ukrainian grain and stealing it. “Ukraine is not your country. Its grain is not your grain. Why are you blocking the ports? You should let the grain out,’” he said.

The recent conflict in Ukraine has resulted in the blockade of many Ukrainian ports. As a result, Kiev, the world’s fourth-largest grain exporter, has been facing some barriers to exporting goods.

“Russia was ready to negotiate with Turkey and Ukraine about the grain,” Lavrov said on the issue.

He also said due to Western sanctions, Russia could not export its own grain. Meanwhile, in a series of tweets on Friday, the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell hit back by saying there were no EU sanctions on food.

Western diplomats also snubbed a photo-op with the Russian foreign minister. They also refused to go to a dinner event on Thursday evening because Lavrov was attending.

The Russian foreign minister, in response, asserted that he would not chase after the United States for talks as Blinken and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock have declined to meet him.

At the meeting, Canadian and European delegations walked out when Russian officials were about to speak. In a tit-for-tat move, Lavrov later walked out of the meeting as Germany’s Baerbock called for an end to the invasion.

However, Lavrov did hold bilateral meetings with Turkey’s Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and China’s Wang Yi.

In an interview with Russia’s state channel Russia 24, broadcast on Friday, Lavrov said: “In terms of meeting with me, the declaration that they won’t be photographing with me — I never asked anyone to be photographed.”

The Bali event, the first gathering of G20 officials since the outbreak of war in Ukraine, hosted a closed-door meeting of top diplomats including China, India, the United States, Brazil, Canada, Japan, and South Africa, as well as bilateral talks on the sidelines.

At the opening of the talks, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi told participants the Ukraine war must end and differences resolved through negotiations. She emphasized: “It is our responsibility to end the war sooner rather than later and settle our differences at the negotiating table, not at the battlefield.”

Less than a month ago, in a summit held on June 27, the G7 leaders declared that they will stand by Ukraine “for as long as it takes” and vowed new sanctions on Russia.

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