Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stormed off and headed home early after being snubbed by other diplomats at the G20 summit — who refused to take a group photo with him over his nation’s invasion of Ukraine.
Foreign ministers who gathered in Bali, Indonesia, this week, did not pose for a traditional “family”-style group photo, after several of them reportedly refused to be pictured with Vladimir Putin’s chief envoy.
The Japanese news agency Kyodo reported that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken led the photo-op boycott.
Blinken and other Western officials also decided to skip a reception on Thursday because Lavrov was going to be present there. Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said she understood and respected their decision.
“We’re talking about trying to create a comfortable situation for all,” Marsudi told reporters.
When he was asked by reporters why there had been no group photo, Lavrov snapped: “I didn’t invite anyone to pose for a photo together with me.”
The high-level summit in Bali was dominated by the Ukraine war and its impact on food security and energy, and it was discussed in almost all bilateral meetings.
At the start of the day’s events, shouts of “When will you stop the war” and “Why don’t you stop the war” were heard as Lavrov shook hands with Marsudi, marking an inauspicious start to an acrimonious .
Lavrov complained that Western ministers “strayed almost immediately, as soon as they took the floor, to the frenzied criticism of the Russian Federation in connection with the situation in Ukraine.”
“‘Aggressors’, ‘invaders’, ‘occupiers’ – we heard a lot of things today,” Lavrov sniffed.
Although they sat at the same conference table for the first time since the Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, Blinken and Lavrov pointedly ignored each other.
“You know, it was not us who abandoned all contacts,” Lavrov told reporters after the first session. “It was the United States. That’s all I can say. And we are not running after anybody suggesting meetings. If they don’t want to talk, it’s their choice.”
When it was his turn to speak, Blinken openly accused Russia of stealing millions of tons of Ukrainian grain.
“He addressed Russia directly, saying: To our Russian colleagues: Ukraine is not your country. Its grain is not your grain. Why are you blocking the ports? You should let the grain out’,” an unnamed Western official said.
Lavrov was not in the room at the time, the official said.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba addressed the meeting virtually, claiming that Russia was playing “hunger games” through its blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea port.
Lavrov left the room again during his speech, according to Ukraine’s ambassador to Indonesia.
Following the photo-op hissy fit, Lavrov signaled his intention to leave the summit early.
Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told the German news agency DPA that Lavrov will be skipping the afternoon meetings and the official dinner on Friday night.
Lavrov was not present for much of the afternoon session and left the room after giving his remarks, the European Union’s foreign policy chief said.
Josep Borrell told reporters Lavrov spoke and did not wait to hear other remarks, in conduct that was “not very respectful.”
With Post Wires