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Russia Joins G20 Indonesia Summit

FILE: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov looks on during a news conference after his meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken about tensions over Ukraine, in Geneva, Switzerland. 1.21.2022

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov got his first close encounter with the fiercest critics of his country's invasion of Ukraine at a G20 gathering in Indonesia that commenced on Thursday.

The Russia-Ukraine conflict and a global food crisis blamed on the war are expected to be front and center of the two-day Group of 20 foreign ministers' meeting on the island of Bali.

The EU will prevent Russia using a G20 meeting in Indonesia as a "propaganda forum" for its disinformation on the impacts of its war in Ukraine, an EU spokeswoman said Thursday, as reported by AFP.

The French news agency also reported that Nabila Massrali said Russian President Vladimir "Putin's appalling war of aggression against Ukraine excludes any business as usual, and will be clearly addressed."

The G20 includes Western countries that have accused Moscow of war crimes in Ukraine - which it denies - and have imposed sanctions, but also countries like China, Indonesia, India and South Africa that have been more muted in their response.

Lavrov planned to meet some of his counterparts on the sidelines of the summit, Russian news agency TASS reported, but ministers including Germany's Annalena Baerbock and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken have ruled out separate meetings with him.

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said her country and like-minded nations would use the G20 meeting to highlight the impact of the war.

"We will be making very clear collectively our views about Russia's position and Russia's behavior," she said.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, however, may leave early: the BBC reported she planned to return to London amid the political drama around Prime Minister Boris Johnson's resignation.

A British Foreign Office official declined to comment.

Speaking after meeting his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, Lavrov emphasised the importance of Russia-China ties in shaping a more "just and democratic world based on the principles of international law, primarily the U.N. charter".

He also lashed out at what he said was an "openly aggressive" West "which seeks to maintain its privileged position and dominance in international affairs"

Top officials from Britain, Canada and the United States walked out on Russian representatives during a G20 finance meeting in Washington in April. However despite early talk of boycotting subsequent G20 meetings, some analysts say Western nations may have decided this would be counterproductive.

But a senior U.S. State Department official said on Thursday it was important to maintain a focus on what Indonesia had set out for its G20 presidency and "not let there be any disruptions or interruptions to that."

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi stressed the need to protect regional stability and solve global issues related to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

"The solidity of the voices of developing nations are needed to stop the war, and to reintegrate food exports of Ukraine and Russia into the global supply chain," Indonesia's foreign ministry said in a statement.

This report contains information sourced from Agence France-Presse and Reuters