Canada says G20 cannot function with Russia at the table

WASHINGTON: Canada’s finance minister Chrystia Freeland on Friday (Apr 22) said that it was impossible to collaborate with Russia in the G20, a group of countries that meets to discuss ways to foster global economic growth, as long as Moscow is waging war in Ukraine.

“The G20 can’t function effectively with Russia at the table,” Freeland said in a joint news conference with Ukrainian finance minister Serhiy Marchenko in Washington, where G20 countries held talks on the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank spring meetings.

Because the war is undermining growth, “Russia does not have a place at the table of countries who have come together to maintain global economic prosperity … You can’t be a poacher and gamekeeper at the same time.”

Discord over Russia’s presence has been on full display all week, with finance ministers and central bankers from the United States, Canada, Britain and other Western countries walking out of meetings whenever Russian officials spoke.

The divisions have meant G20 finance ministers and central bank governors failed to agree on a communique stating areas of agreement on major issues such as debt relief for poor countries, the impacts of the war in Ukraine and climate change.

Another failure to issue a joint statement came at Thursday’s IMF steering committee meeting, and it remained unclear whether the joint IMF-World Bank Development Committee would issue a communique on Friday.

Freeland, who is of Ukrainian descent, has made impassioned pleas on behalf of Ukraine since Russia invaded the country in late February.

On Thursday she directly addressed Russian finance minister Anton Siluanov, who joined an IMF meeting virtually, saying his participation was “perverse and absurd” since “your war is making us poorer,” according to a source.

The G20 includes Western countries that have accused Moscow of war crimes in Ukraine, as well as China, India, Indonesia and South Africa, which have not joined Western-led sanctions against Russia over the conflict.

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation” that it says is not designed to occupy territory, but to destroy its southern neighbor’s military capabilities and capture what it regards as dangerous nationalists.