Yellen, BoE’s Bailey, Canada’s Freeland walk out of G20 meeting as Russians speak

WASHINGTON/LONDON, April 20 (Reuters) – Top finance officials from Britain, the United States and Canada walked out of Wednesday’s G20 meeting as Russian representatives spoke, UK finance minister Rishi Sunak said, exposing deepening divisions over Russia’s continued presence in the body. read more

Ukrainian officials in attendance also walked out of the meeting of top finance officials from the world’s 20 largest economies, according to a source familiar with the meeting.

“Earlier my representatives, along with US & Canadian counterparts left today’s G20 meeting in Washington as Russian delegates spoke,” Sunak said on Twitter. “We are united in our condemnation of Russia’s war against Ukraine and will push for stronger international coordination to punish Russia.”

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Russian Deputy Finance Minister Timur Maksimov attended the meeting in person, while Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov and Russia’s central bank governor joined virtually, a second source said.

Russia’s finance ministry did not mention the walkout in a statement issued after the meeting. It cited Siluanov as calling on the G20 not to politicize dialogue between members and stressing the grouping had always focused on the economy.

He also complained about the damaging effect 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,” it said. “The safety of international reserves and the possibility of free trade and financial transactions are no longer guaranteed.”

German Finance Minister Christian Lindner said Russia was to blame for the slowdown in global growth, high inflation and supply chain problems. “Russia must be isolated,” he told reporters.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told attendees she strongly disapproved of a senior Russian official’s presence at the meeting, two of the sources told Reuters.

One source added that Yellen told participants there could be “no business-as-usual” for Russia in the global economy, echoing her message to Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, whose government is heading the G20 group this year. read more Indrawati is due to hold a news conference on Wednesday.

Yellen was joined in her walkout by Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey and Canadian Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, among others.

European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde, meanwhile, urged Maksimov to convey to Moscow a clear message – to end the war in Ukraine, one of the sources said.

G20 finance ministers and central bank governors met on the sidelines of a semi-annual conference held by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank in Washington, with the Ukraine war, food security and ongoing recovery from the coronavirus pandemic the key topics.

Yellen plans to boycott two G20 sessions on the international financial architecture and sustainable finance, one of the sources said, although Treasury officials said she would join a discussion of the Ukraine war’s impact on the global economy.

Finance leaders from a number of European countries planned to follow suit in protest of Russia’s invasion. read more

Freeland, who is of Ukrainian descent and has made impassioned pleas on behalf of the country, planned to “boycott any sessions where the Russians try to speak,” a Canadian government official said.

Freeland, who is also Canada’s deputy prime minister, said she walked out of a G20 plenary meeting to protest against Russia’s participation.

“This week’s meetings in Washington are about supporting the world economy – and Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine is a serious threat to the global economy,” she said on Twitter, adding that Russia should not be participating.


IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva on Wednesday acknowledged it was a “difficult moment” for the G20, a forum that has played a key role in coordinating the fight against COVID-19 and responding to the 2008-2009 financial crisis.

But she insisted that cooperation through the forum would continue.

“There are clearly very, very unsettling facts we have to deal with,” said Georgieva, a Bulgarian native. “But we also recognize how interdependent we are… And it is so obvious that cooperation must and will continue.”

Georgieva and Yellen have warned against a fragmentation of the global economy into geopolitical blocs, with the United States and market-driven democracies on one side and China, Russia and other state-driven economies on another.

Separately, the United States announced new sanctions on a Russian commercial bank, an oligarch and dozens of individuals, according to the US Treasury Department website. read more

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Reporting by Andrea Shalal and David Lawder in Washington, David Milliken in London and David Ljunggren in Ottawa; additional reporting by Steve Scherer in Ottawa; edited by Dan Burns and Paul Simao

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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