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Russia’s Sergey Lavrov walks out of G20 meeting amid criticism over Ukraine

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July 8 (UPI) — Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov walked out of a meeting of Group of 20 foreign ministers in Indonesia on Friday amid criticisms over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, diplomatic sources said.

Lavrov abruptly left the room during a session on multilateralism in Bali, cutting short his first direct meeting with Western leaders since Russia mounted its attack on Ukraine, sources told the Guardian and Japan’s Kyodo news agency.

During the meeting, Russia came in for heavy criticism, sources said.

Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, for instance, urged the international community to unite against Russia’s “violent acts” and to make Moscow “pay a high price” for its actions, ministry officials told Kyodo.

The veteran Russian diplomat exited the hall as his German counterpart, Annalena Baerbock, started to speak.

His departure was quickly noted by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who warned Russia, “Ukraine is not your country,” and accused the Kremlin of using blocked Ukrainian grain shipments as weapons of war.

“Its grain is not your grain,” he said, according to diplomats. “Why are you blocking the ports?”

Josep Borrell, the European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, last month called Russia’s blockade of wheat and other food goods in Ukraine “a real war crime,” accusing the Kremlin of using hunger as a weapon of war.

The Ukrainian government has accused Russia of stealing more than 600,000 tons of its grain to sell on international markets. Earlier this month Russian forces intensified their attack on grain, hitting Odessa-area silos containing nearly 40 tons of grain.

Following his walkout, Lavrov told reporters, “If the West doesn’t want talks to take place but wishes for Ukraine to defeat Russia on the battlefield — because both views have been expressed — then perhaps there is nothing to talk about with the West.”

He characterized his actions as “reminding our Western colleagues about what they said in the previous months and asked them to make up their mind about what they want after all,” according to the Russian news agency TASS.

Despite the snub by Western nations during the foreign ministers gathering, Lavrov conducted multiple meetings along the sidelines of the event, including a bilateral discussion with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Thursday in which Beijing signaled its policy toward Russia remains unchanged despite the Ukraine invasion.

China and Russia “have eliminated interference, maintained normal exchanges, and promoted cooperation in various fields in an orderly manner, demonstrating the strong resilience and strategic determination of the relationship between the two countries,” the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement following the meeting.

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