Russian minister Sergei Lavrov quits G20 after snubbed photo
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stormed off and returned home early after being snubbed by fellow diplomats at the G20 summit – who refused to take a group photo with him over the invasion of Ukraine by his country.
Foreign ministers who met in Bali, Indonesia this week did not pose for a traditional “family” style group photo, after several of them reportedly refused to be photographed with the chief envoy of Vladimir Putin.
Japanese news agency Kyodo reported that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken led the boycott of the photo shoot.
Blinken and other Western officials also decided to skip a reception on Thursday because Lavrov would be there. Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said she understood and respected their decision.
“We’re talking about trying to create a comfortable situation for everyone,” Marsudi told reporters.
When asked by reporters why there was no group photo, Lavrov replied, “I didn’t invite anyone to pose for a photo with me.”
The Bali high-level summit was dominated by the war in Ukraine and its impact on food and energy security, and it was discussed in almost every bilateral meeting.
As the day’s events began, cries of “When are you going to stop the war” and “Why don’t you stop the war” were heard as Lavrov shook hands with Marsudi, marking an inauspicious start to an acrimonious.
Lavrov complained that Western ministers “almost immediately wandered off, as soon as they spoke, into the frenzied criticism of the Russian Federation over the situation in Ukraine”.
“’Aggressors’, ‘invaders’, ‘occupiers’ – we heard a lot today,” sniffed Lavrov.
Despite sitting at the same conference table for the first time since the February 24 invasion of Ukraine, Blinken and Lavrov pointedly ignored each other.
“You know, it was not us who gave up all contacts,” Lavrov told reporters after the first session. “It was the United States. That’s all I can say. And we’re not chasing anyone who suggests meetings. If they don’t want to talk, that’s their choice.
When it was his turn to speak, Blinken openly accused Russia of stealing millions of tons of Ukrainian grain.
“He addressed Russia directly saying: to our Russian colleagues: Ukraine is not your country. His grain is not your grain. Why are you blocking ports? You should let the grain out,” said an unnamed Western official.
Lavrov was not in the room at the time, the official said.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba addressed the meeting virtually, saying Russia was playing “hunger games” with its blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea port.
Lavrov again left the room during his speech, according to Ukraine’s ambassador to Indonesia.
After the photo shoot, Lavrov signaled his intention to leave the summit early.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told German news agency DPA that Lavrov would skip the afternoon meetings and the official dinner on Friday evening.
Lavrov was not present for much of the afternoon session and left the room after delivering his remarks, the European Union’s foreign policy chief said.
Josep Borrell told reporters that Lavrov spoke up and didn’t wait to hear any further remarks, in “not very respectful” conduct.
With pole wires