On Thursday, the G20 foreign ministers met in Bali (Indonesia). It was clear that Sergey Lavrov would be present at the forum. After the repeated calls to Moscow to end the conflict in Ukraine, multiple criticisms, refusals to meet with him by Western ministers, and refusing to be included in the family photo, Lavrov decided to leave the meeting in a hurry and not participate in the formal dinner or the afternoon session. At least, that is what the European Union delegation has promised.
The Russian representative arrived in Bali on Thursday and the altercations started almost immediately. Retno Marsudi was pictured with the Indonesian Foreign Minister. Someone asked him "When will they stop this war?" Lavrov didn't respond to the question. To a group of journalists, he commented: "They urged me to stop this operation to reach a peaceful resolution. But I asked them what they really wanted. The Ukrainians (...) interrupted peace talks if they wanted to. But, if they really want negotiations and Ukraine's victory on the battlefield over Russia, then there may not be much to discuss.
Marsudi, however, was the host of the meeting and stated that "it is our responsibility not to go to war later than necessary" and that we must resolve differences at the negotiation table and not on the battlefield. Josep Borrell, the High Representative of EU, said in his speech that only one man can provide a quick solution to many of these issues. He is President Putin. This must be done in order to stop the senseless war and save the world from a global food and energy catastrophe.
According to Kyodo Japanese agency, the family photo was canceled after Lavrov refused to photograph foreign ministers from G7 countries. Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State, apparently took the initiative. Annalena Baerbock (German minister) stated that she could not be with someone who bombs Ukraine and attacks children, adults and civilians (...) there won't be a group picture of this summit.
The main Russian diplomat remarked that, "as for meetings with me and the declarations that they would never take photos with my, I did not invite anyone." In general, I didn't invite anyone. Indonesia invited me. Indonesia invited President Vladimir Putin, to join the November summit>> of heads state and government of G20.
Lavrov quickly left the room after his intervention. Baerbock followed Lavrov's lead in a word order. Borrell said that Lavrov spoke first and didn't wait to hear the rest, a behavior he called "disrespectful". The Russian minister was seated with Mexico and Saudi Arabia delegations before he took the microphone.
Dmitro Kuleba, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, made the harshest intervention, even though Lavrov was not present. He said: "After all Russia has done in six months, it has absolutely no place in any international forum." An aggressor country, one that commits massive and horrific crimes against civilians, only needs to be sent to the International Criminal Court.
Lavrov was not present during the afternoon and missed Blinken’s speech. Blinken urged Moscow to remove all blocks on Ukrainian ports so that grain can be exported. "I appeal to my Russian colleagues that Ukraine is not their country. Ukraine grain is not yours. They are blocking ports. The US Secretary of State said that. According to the Russian foreign minister, Ukraine is the country that should unblock its ports and clear them from mines.
In a meeting with Carlos Alberto Franco Franca, the Brazilian Foreign Minister, Lavrov complained that certain countries "try to block contacts in multilateral formats." He said, "I appreciate the position taken by the majority of countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa." We must not let anyone think of us as if we were all enemies of multilateral structures.
Lavrov met in Bali only with his Chinese counterparts Wang Yi, Mevlut Cavasoglu, Indian Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, and Santiago Cafiero. He also met with Carlos Alberto Franco Franca, a Brazilian. He spoke briefly with Marcelo Ebrard (Mexican counterpart) while they were sitting together but did not organize a formal meeting.
Although the agenda seems not to be too extensive, Maria Zajarova (spokesperson for Russia's Foreign Ministry) assured via Telegram that "Lavrov’s so-called isolation was self-isolation form the West." According to her, the G7 plan of boycotting Russia at the G20 was a failure. Nobody supported Western regimes."