Russia’s war in Ukraine strains global economic cooperation

WASHINGTON—A rift between Western democracies and Russia and China is forcing policymakers to figure out how to keep conversations going between nations with diverse opinions as they face economic challenges stemming from the war in Ukraine.

Indonesia’s announcement on Friday that it has invited the leaders of Russia and Ukraine to a November meeting of the Group of 20 economic powers underscored the complex task facing the United States and its allies. Westerners. They must not only confront Russia, but also work with nations caught in the middle and fearful of being left out of political talks.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said he invited Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to the Bali summit as hosts of the group this year. Mr Widodo said Mr Putin had accepted the invitation. The G-20, a group that includes Russia, China and influential emerging nations, as well as Western powers, served as a forum for discussing global economic issues.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attendance at November G-20 meeting challenged by US

Mikhail Klimentyev/Press Pool

The White House said Friday that President Biden opposes Putin’s attendance at G-20 meetings in November. “There’s a lot that could happen between now and then, but we certainly haven’t seen any indication so far of Russia’s plan to participate constructively in the diplomatic talks,” the secretary said. White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

The Russian Embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment.

Finance ministers and central bankers from around the world who gathered for the International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings in Washington in April experienced first-hand the challenges of a war-torn world in Ukraine and stressed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

While tensions remained high throughout the week-long meeting, the rift between the nations became more apparent when Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and other Western officials walked out of a G-20 session as Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov, who joined the meeting virtually, began speaking.

Russias war in Ukraine strains global economic cooperation

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been invited to November’s G-20 meeting, according to host country Indonesia.

Sergei Supinsky/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Nations representing the IMF walked out of the meetings without issuing a routine statement outlining policy priorities. The G-20 reported little progress on an overarching task: preparing a common framework to respond to the spread of debt crises in developing countries.

“We can’t really solve some global challenges, climate or pandemic preparedness … without a larger group,” said Mark Sobel, a former Treasury Department and IMF official who is now US chairman of the Official Forum. monetary and financial institutions, a thinker Char. “We are a bit at an impasse”

Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, who chaired the G-20 meeting in April, said in an interview that the walkout was a carefully orchestrated mechanism that allowed Russia to attend the meeting while giving United States and others the opportunity to express their disapproval.

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Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, who attended an event in 2018, said the G-20 is an important institution for a country like his.

Nguyen Huy Kham/Reuters

She added that officials from the US, UK, Canada and some other countries were absent from the room for a few minutes but were present for the remainder of the meeting. Delegations from some US allies, including Italy and Japan, did not leave the meeting.

“The fact that we could still have a meeting with all the ministers present and continue to focus on substance while making progress…was truly remarkable,” Ms Mulyani said. “I think it’s still manageable. »

The minister said that for weeks before the meeting she had intense discussions with Ms Yellen and other G-20 counterparts to strategize. Some members of the advanced economies of the Group of Seven initially called on Ms. Mulyani to disinvite Russia. When she pushed back, they demanded that Moscow be stopped from speaking.

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Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told a recent press conference that the G-20 lacked consensus on Russia’s withdrawal, a step the United States supports.

News from Ting Shen/Bloomberg

Still, nearly half of G-20 members told Mulyani that Russia should be invited, she said. Ultimately, she persuaded the United States and others to agree to the walkout, timed to minimize the impact on the meeting’s agenda.

“The goal was to save the G-20 as the premier forum for cooperation while providing a forum where they can express their feelings about invading Ukraine,” she said. “It was exactly the compromise format. »

The survival of the G-20, which gained a prominent role during the 2008-2009 financial crisis in giving a wide range of countries a voice in global economic policy discussions, is important for countries like its , Ms. Mulyani said. The group also includes Argentina, Brazil, India, South Korea, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Turkey.

While the United States has called for Russia’s withdrawal from the G-20, Ms Yellen told a recent press conference that the group lacked consensus on such a move.

“I think we looked for a way to make our disapproval known while acknowledging that we have a lot of work to do,” Ms Yellen said.

Ukraine’s Finance Minister Sergii Marchenko, who was successfully pressured by Western nations to attend the meeting, said in an interview that he hoped more countries would join the walkout, while adding that he still appreciated the remarks from many countries condemning the invasion.

Tensions within the G-20 arise as the world grapples with food insecurity resulting from war, a lingering pandemic and longer-term challenges such as climate change.

DJ Nordquist, former US executive director of the World Bank and White House economics chief in the Trump administration, said the tensions “could doom multilateralism at a time when we need open channels and cooperation the most.” .


How should Western democracies approach negotiations with Russia and China? Join the conversation below.

The experience of the G-20 and other meetings in Washington offers a lesson for other international groups on how to keep conversations going amid confrontation, officials say.

“As soon as the Russian minister finished speaking, they came right back and business continued,” said Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, director general of the World Trade Organization, who attended the April meeting. and is currently preparing a ministerial meeting of his group in June, told reporters on Tuesday. “We expect the same. We will have to find methodologies to circumvent now.

Write to Yuka Hayashi at [email protected] and Andrew Duehren at [email protected]

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