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Tensions between world leaders remained heightened on Friday during talks with G20 nations in Bali, Indonesia as major economies try to tackle the biggest problems facing the globe.
The divisions between Western nations and the increasingly unified China-Russia front highlighted strong divisions and made diplomacy nil effective when it came to issues concerning the war in Ukraine.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has reportedly abandoned the proceedings twice on Friday, first when his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock started speaking and again when Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba appeared on video.
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Lavrov said the global food crisis – a major issue scheduled for the November summit and the result of the Russian naval blockade in the Black Sea – was not Moscow’s fault.
“If the West does not want talks to take place, but wants 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 Il Guardiano.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken and her Russian counterpart have reportedly ignored each other outside the proceedings, and it is the first time Lavrov has met with Western leaders since Russia’s deadly invasion of Ukraine in February. .
“You know, we didn’t drop all contacts,” Lavrov told reporters. “It was the United States. And we’re not running after anyone suggesting meetings. If they don’t want to talk, it’s their choice.”
Blinken reportedly directed timely comments to Moscow during a closed-door meeting Lavrov was not present for, accusing it of blocking millions of tons of wheat and exacerbating the global food shortage.
Lavrov’s sit-in apparently didn’t have a rebuttal to Blinken’s comments and he claimed he hadn’t prepared any remarks, according to an anonymous diplomat who attended the meeting.
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This week’s talks were intended to lay the groundwork for a summit to be hosted by Indonesia in November, but difficult diplomatic relations have set an uncertain tone at the upcoming conference.
“The world has yet to recover from the pandemic, but we are already facing another crisis: the war in Ukraine,” said Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi. “The ripple effects are being felt globally on food, energy and physical space.”
However, officials seemed to want to show their disinterest in working with Russia as long as the country continued its war in Ukraine and said there would be no joint communiqué like in previous years.
Western officials apparently suggested focusing on addressing the food and energy shortages that became a global problem after the Moscow invasion and said they would work to establish blocking deals to counter the growing global crisis.
However, the tone of the talks was little surprising after the arrests made by Western nations and officials from Russia and China ahead of the G20 meeting in Bali.
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Lavrov, along with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, reportedly stopped in several Asian capitals to garner support for their position and strengthen their shared ties.
Blinken, along with his German, French and British counterparts, have been meeting for months and have attended NATO and G7 conferences over the past week.
The Indonesian guest attempted to reign in the hostilities by reminding all participants that the world is facing monumental crises that will have devastating effects if not resolved.
G20 developing countries, such as Argentina, Brazil, India and Indonesia, could also suffer severe consequences if relations between the West remain strained with Russia and China.
“Honestly, we can’t deny that it has become harder for the world to sit together,” said Marsudi. “The world is watching us, so we can’t fail.”
Reports surfaced on Friday that Western nations refused to attend a group dinner Thursday night after learning that Lavrov would be attending.
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The usual group photo was also dropped in a boycott allegedly led by Blinken and G7 members, according to a report by Politico EU.
Lavrov reportedly got snappy when asked about the omitted group photo shoot and told reporters, “I haven’t invited anyone to pose for a photo with me.”
“It goes without saying that they used the G20 for goals that were not foreseen when it was created,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.