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Diplomats from G20 industrialized nations gather amid worries over Ukraine war, global inflation

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. (

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Russia’s foreign minister walked out of a meeting of diplomats from the Group of 20 major industrialized nations amid criticism of the Russian war on Ukraine.

The July 8 meeting in Bali, Indonesia, was intended to lay the groundwork for a summit of G20 leaders later this year. The Ukraine war, along with soaring global food and energy prices that have resulted from the conflict, topped the agenda.

Some Western leaders have called for Russia to be kicked out the group as a follow-up on Western sanctions imposed after the February 24 invasion.

The United States and its allies have threatened to boycott the November summit unless Russian President Vladimir Putin is removed from the forum.

At a morning session on July 8, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock criticized Moscow for the war, prompting Lavrov to walk out. He also left an afternoon session before Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba was scheduled to speak remotely.

Lavrov called the criticism “frenzied.”

“‘Aggressors’, ‘invaders’, ‘occupiers’– we heard a lot of things today,” Lavrov told reporters.

The discussion by diplomats “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,” he was quoted as saying.

Еаrlier, the U.S. secretary of state, Antony Blinken, also condemned the Russian invasion.

“What we’ve heard today already is a strong chorus from around the world…about the need for the aggression to end,” Blinken said during the gathering.

Ukraine is not a member of the G20, but Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has been invited to attend the November meeting. Zelenskiy has said he won’t attend if the war is continuing then.

Chinese officials lashed into Washington and NATO ahead of the meeting.

Washington “observes international rules only as it sees fit,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters in Beijing on July 6.

“So-called rules-based international order is actually a family rule made by a handful of countries to serve the U.S. self-interest,” he was quoted as saying.

Global food security was also expected on the agenda.

Prices for meat, cereals, vegetable oils, dairy products, and sugar have soared in recent months, due largely to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Ukraine is one of the world’s largest exporters of corn and sunflower oil, but Russia’s invasion has halted most of that flow. Millions of tons of Ukrainian grain are stuck in silos, unable to be exported due to Russia’s naval presence in the Black Sea.

Those disruptions threaten food supplies for many developing countries, especially in Africa.

During a closed-door session of officials, Blinken, who refused to hold one-on-one meetings with Lavrov, demanded Moscow allow grain shipments out of Ukraine.

“To our Russian colleagues: Ukraine is not your country. Its grain is not your grain. Why are you blocking the ports? You should let the grain out,” Blinken said, according to a Western official who was present.

Members of the G20 account for about 80 percent of the world’s economic output and about two-thirds of the world’s population.