Yellen, Ministers Leave G20 Meeting as Russia Envoys Speak
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and other finance ministers and central bank governors walked out of a Group of 20 meeting on Wednesday.
Canadian Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland posted a picture of those who participated in the walkout on her Twitter account, showing Ukrainian Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko, European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey, EU Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni and Dutch Finance Minister Sigrid Kaag among those who took part.
This week’s meeting was the first of the G-20 since the war began and was closely watched for signs of how the world’s leading international bodies are responding to Russia’s aggression. Nations in the smaller Group of Seven have taken the lead in pursuing sanctions against Russia and some have sent weapons to Ukraine.
They’ve sought to engage other countries to condemn President Vladimir Putin and to put limits on trade and investment with Moscow, including on energy. But many governments in Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East — including China and India — remain reluctant to do so.
The G-20 didn’t issue a communique as it usually does following the meeting. At a virtual press conference after the meeting, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati of Indonesia, which holds the group’s presidency this year, acknowledged that the meeting was held under challenging circumstances.
Many members condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as unprovoked and unjustifiable, with some expressing concerns about its economic consequences, and the protest against Russia’s participation was understandable, Indrawati said.
But the minister said that she’s confident that differences over the war won’t hinder G-20 cooperation nor prevent collaboration for addressing issues such as the global pandemic and taxation.
“The G-20 continues as a premier forum for all of us to continue to discuss and talk about all of the issues,” she said. “I think we are going to be able to overcome the challenging tasks that we are facing today.”
The session had mostly been devoted to economic risks emanating from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to two of the people who declined to be identified because the meeting was private.
Spanish, French and German officials didn’t leave the room, according to one of the people. Spain currently heads the International Monetary and Financial Committee — the main steering panel of the International Monetary Fund’s 190 member countries that’s made up of central bankers and finance ministers — and therefore wasn’t in a position to leave, with some European officials opting to stay in solidarity, the person said.
While U.S. ally Japan has sanctioned Russia and provided aid for Ukraine, its finance minister didn’t join the walkout, the country’s top government spokesman told reporters in Tokyo on Thursday.
German Finance Minister Christian Lindner made clear in the meeting that it would have been preferable for the Russian delegation not to attend the G-20, a German government official said.
One of the people said that some officials who were attending virtually turned off their cameras when Russian officials spoke. BM