G20 Finance ministers after a multi-nation walk out to protest Russia during a G20 meeting in Washington
Sharjah 24 – AFP: US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen led a multi-nation walk out of a meeting Wednesday of finance officials from the world's richest countries when Russian officials spoke, in protest against Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.
Moscow's attack on its neighbour loomed over the meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bank governors, the first since President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion in late February.
British, French and Canadian officials joined the boycott, officials confirmed, underscoring the boiling tensions at the gathering.
"Multiple finance ministers and central bank governors including Ukraine Finance Minister (Sergiy Marchenko) and Secretary Yellen walked out when Russia started talking at the G20 meeting," a source familiar with the event told AFP. "Some finance ministers and central bank governors who were virtual turned their cameras off when Russia spoke."
The Group of 20 convened on Wednesday to address global challenges like rising debt and a possible food crisis, but discussions have been overshadowed by the war.
And during the meeting French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire called on Russian delegates to refrain from attending the sessions, saying "war is not compatible with international cooperation."
The boycott underscores the tumult facing the G20, and experts see little chance at this meeting for the bloc to find consensus on global challenges such as climate change and debt relief for poor nations.
The G20, chaired by Indonesia this year, includes major economies like the United States, China, India, Brazil, Japan and several countries in Europe, including Russia.
The finance officials are gathering virtually on the sidelines of the World Bank and IMF's spring meetings in Washington.
Despite the friction, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said global cooperation "must and will continue," pointing to a long list of issues that "no country can solve on its own."
Asked how the group can avoid fracture and still take action, Georgieva, who heads an institution with 189 members, told reporters, "I can vouch for the fact that it is more difficult when there are tensions, but it is not impossible."