Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi with his Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi after his arrival in Bali.

Tensions rise in Ukraine as Lavrov flies to Bali for G20 foreign ministers summit | Indonesia

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has flown to the Indonesian island of Bali for a meeting of G20 foreign ministers likely to be overshadowed by Moscow’s war in Ukraine and deep divisions within the bloc over crisis response.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Lavrov and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will all attend the gathering amid growing concerns from Western governments about the war’s impact on food and fuel costs, prompting the UN to announce a ” unprecedented wave of hunger and misery”.

The meeting will mark the first time Lavrov has met counterparts from nations strongly critical of the war.

Analysts are wondering how much can be achieved by the G20, riddled with disagreements over how to manage the war in Ukraine and its global ramifications. While Western members have accused Moscow of war crimes and imposed unprecedented sanctions, others – such as China, Indonesia, India and South Africa – have not taken the same critical stance.

On Wednesday, Lavrov urged all world parties to strive to protect international laws, saying, “The world is developing in a complicated way.”

Earlier in the week, China attacked the US and NATO, declaring that Washington “only follows international rules as it sees fit.” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters in Beijing that the “so-called rules-based international order is actually a family rule set up by a handful of countries to serve US self-interest.”

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi with his Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi after his arrival in Bali.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi with his Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi after his arrival in Bali. Photo: Dita Alangkara/EPA

Ahead of Thursday’s meeting, German Foreign Ministry spokesman Christian Wagner said it would be neither a “normal summit” nor “business as usual”.

Joshua Kurlantzick, senior fellow for Southeast Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations, said Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo, who is hosting the meeting, likely hopes to avoid a “disastrous meeting”.

There are so many different countries and points of view at one table that it is “almost unmanageable,” said Kurlantzick. “The gaps between some of the G20 countries are too wide to really draw any conclusions on almost anything. It would just be a miracle if no one walked out like what happened at the finance ministers meeting.”

In April, the UK, US and Canada staged a coordinated strike at a G20 meeting to protest the Russian invasion.

Some western countries had threatened to boycott G20 meetings, but the US State Department on Tuesday said Blinken would be a “full and active participant”. There will be no formal meeting between the US and Lavrov, it said, adding that Russia is not “serious about diplomacy.”

“We haven’t seen that yet,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said. “We want the Russians to give us a reason to meet with them on a bilateral basis, with Foreign Minister Lavrov, but the only thing we see emanating from Moscow is more brutality and aggression against the people and the country of Ukraine. “

Blinken will hold separate talks with Wang “to discuss having guard rails” for US-China relations so competition “does not lead to miscalculations or confrontations,” US Deputy Secretary of State Daniel Kritenbrink said.

“This will be another opportunity… to express our expectations of what we would and would not expect China to do in relation to Ukraine,” he said.

The global crisis in food and energy costs will feature prominently at the G20 meeting, US officials said.

Ukraine is a major supplier of sunflower oil and corn, and grows enough wheat to feed 400 million people. However, its exports were badly affected by the Russian invasion and Moscow’s blockade of its sea routes.

Jokowi, as the Indonesian President is widely known, recently visited both Ukraine and Russia and called for measures to resume exports – on which Indonesia, like many other nations, relies heavily.

Indonesia maintains an “independent and active” approach to foreign policy and has tried to present itself as a neutral actor that could support the negotiations.

Jokowi probably hopes “to show itself as the world market leader and simply to avoid a catastrophic encounter,” said Kurlantzick.

“He’s probably hoping for a situation where nobody leaves the meeting, he’s avoiding a complete disaster and helping to keep the dialogue going between all the different actors, perhaps with an aim of getting Russia to start exporting grain again to many countries, maybe they can reach another smaller goal as well,” added Kurlantzick.

Reuters and Associated Press contributed to this report

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