G-20 begins talks on food, energy issues with U.S.-Russia row expected

Foreign ministers from the Group of 20 major economies began discussions Friday on food and energy shortages and price surges stemming from Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

On the second day of the G-20 meeting on the Indonesian island of Bali, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov are likely to trade barbs over who is to blame for the issues.

For Lavrov, the G-20 gathering is the first opportunity to attend a multilateral event involving foreign ministers of the Group of Seven industrialized countries since the war in Ukraine began in late February and deepened rifts between Western countries and Russia, as well as China.

In a move reflecting the ill-feeling toward Russia, a customary group photo of the ministers was not taken, according to sources knowledgeable about the matter.

In contrast with the G-20 finance chiefs' meeting in April in Washington and some other major international conferences, the G-7 delegates have no intention of leaving the room while Lavrov speaks, according to U.S. and Japanese government officials.

At the meeting of the G-20 finance ministers and central bank governors, the U.S., Canadian and European delegations walked out when Russian officials, including Finance Minister Anton Siluanov who joined virtually, were about to speak. Japan did not join in the gesture.

In protest against Russia's military aggression, the G-7 top diplomats boycotted a dinner event on Thursday evening, the first event of the two-day meeting before substantive discussions began on Friday in the Nusa Dua area, according to Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi.

Retno may release a statement when the G-20 conference wraps up, but it is considered highly unlikely a joint document will be issued given tensions over the war in Ukraine, according to a Japanese official.

Since the beginning of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the United States, European nations and Japan stepped up their economic sanctions against Moscow, but Moscow has shown no signs of relenting in its military campaign.

The G-20 -- made up of the G-7 plus fast-growing economies -- has been divided over the Ukraine crisis, with China, India and Indonesia among nations that have refrained from joining punitive U.S.-led measures.

Fears over food shortages are growing in some African and Middle Eastern nations dependent on grain exports from Ukraine, a major producer whose agricultural infrastructure has been destroyed by Russian attacks. Moscow has also blockaded its Black Sea ports, preventing crops from being shipped.

The G-7 has said Russia is responsible for the food crisis, arguing that the country is weaponizing food supplies while trying to blame the crisis on sanctions imposed by the West.

Among the topics to be discussed will be exploring ways to achieve a good balance between tackling climate change and guaranteeing energy security.

The participants are also expected to discuss strengthening multilateralism and global collaboration to foster mutual trust among countries, as the Russian invasion has challenged the global order and put a spotlight on dysfunction at the United Nations in addressing international disputes.

Japan's Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi will highlight that the security of Europe is inseparable from that of Asia, as concerns about China's growing maritime assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific are heightened by Russia's aggression against Ukraine, according to the official.

The foreign ministers of Japan, South Korea and the United States plan to have a trilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 talks, with the aim of confirming closer cooperation to deal with North Korean missile and nuclear threats.

Including the G-7 -- Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States plus the European Union -- the G-20 also groups Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea and Turkey.

© Kyodo News