Russia's invasion of Ukraine is high on the agenda as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with other foreign ministers from the Group of 20 largest economies, or G-20, this week in Bali, Indonesia.
Before the first session of the meeting got under way Blinken met with the transatlantic Quad foreign ministers — French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, and British Second Permanent Under Secretary and Political Director Tim Barrow.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement Friday that they discussed joint efforts to provide Ukraine with additional security and humanitarian support and reviewed ways to address the global food security concerns that have resulted from Russia’s deliberate targeting of Ukrainian agriculture.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov walked out the G-20 ministers’ meetings twice Friday — the first time when Baercock was speaking during the session on strengthening multilateralism, and the second just before Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, addressed the session on food and energy security by video link. Lavrov was not in the room when Blinken spoke.
In his remarks, Blinken addressed Russia directly, saying: “To our Russian colleagues: Ukraine is not your country. It’s grain is not your grain. Why are you blocking the ports? You should let the grain out.”
Blinken, after meeting with Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, whose country will host the G-20 next year, said the organization "is a vital institution for trying to deal collectively with some of the most significant problems and challenges that the world faces.”
Blinken said many of those challenges stem from the Russian war on Ukraine, and that others at the G-20 expressed similar concerns: "So I think what we've heard today already, is a strong chorus from around the world – not just the United States, but around the world – about the need for the aggression to end so that we can actually focus on the challenges that are affecting people in their lives.”
Blinken will participate in bilateral meetings with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Saturday.
“This is part of an ongoing, and I think important, series of conversations with our Chinese counterparts across the government to make sure that we are responsibly managing the relationship,” a senior State Department official said Thursday, adding that the relationship has “different aspects to it, from profound competition being at the heart (but also) elements of cooperation, and there are elements of contestation.”
On the agenda of the meetings between top U.S. and Chinese diplomats is possible cooperation on climate change, global health, counternarcotics and the situation in Myanmar, said U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Kritenbrink.
Blinken will have two lengthy meetings with Wang, with the first session likely focusing on bilateral relations and the second focusing on regional and international issues, according to diplomatic sources.
Blinken's meeting with the Chinese foreign minister would be their first in person since the chief U.S. diplomat unveiled the Biden administration's strategy to outcompete the rival superpower.
In his remarks at the time, Blinken said that the U.S. was not seeking to decouple from China and that the relationship between the world's two largest economies was not a zero-sum game.
Russia's participation in G-20 events has created tension within the group, which comprises the Group of Seven leading industrialized economies, or G-7, and other large developing economies.
No formal meeting has been scheduled between Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Bali. The U.S. is not ruling out the possibility of a walkout to protest Lavrov's presence at the G-20.
Lavrov and Wang met Thursday ahead of the ministerial meeting, Agence France-Presse reported. They were seen together on an Indonesian resort island.
According to a Russian foreign ministry statement, Lavrov updated Wang "about the implementation of the main missions of the special military operation" in Ukraine and reiterated Moscow's rhetoric that its aim is to "denazify" the country.”
After the G-20 ministerial, Blinken will head to Bangkok, where he is expected to discuss the situation in Myanmar, also known as Burma.
This week's ministerial will not produce an official document or communique, according to G-20 co-sherpa Dian Triansyah Djani.