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G20 delegates to stage walkouts against Russia amid Ukraine war

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will avoid G20 sessions attended by Russian officials
Janet Yellen will avoid G20 sessions attended by Russian officials. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images (Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images)

Western nations are planning coordinated walkouts of a meeting of G20 finance ministers in Washington in protest at Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

According to Reuters, US treasury secretary Janet Yellen will avoid sessions attended by Russian officials, while Rishi Sunak, the UK chancellor, will also not attend certain meetings, a British government source has said.

However, Yellen will attend an opening session on the Ukraine war regardless of Russian participation, it has been reported.

On Wednesday, the British Treasury department said that Sunak will be represented by another British government official at the meetings he does not attend.


“As per the US, the chancellor will attend the core G20 sessions... and will continue working with our allies to call out Russian aggression, and push for stronger coordinated action to punish Russia and support Ukraine,” a Treasury spokesperson said.

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It comes as some western capitals argue that Russia’s recent actions should mean that it is excluded from global meetings, but others in the G20, including China and Indonesia, do not share this view.

On Tuesday, Moscow confirmed that its finance minister Anton Siluanov would lead its delegation at the meetings, which look to address global challenges such as rising debt, despite opposition.

“During and after the meeting we will be certain to send a strong message and we will not be alone in doing so,” a German government source said. A French official added that some ministers from G7 nations are expected to leave their seats when their Russian counterpart is due to speak.

The news follows the Financial Stability Board’s (FSB) chair, Klaas Knot, outlining financial stability issues surrounding the geopolitical conflict in a letter to the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors on Wednesday.

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The letter noted that the Russian invasion triggered large price fluctuations in global financial markets, but that it “appears limited compared to the turmoil induced by COVID-19 in March 2020”.

“Nevertheless, uncertainty remains high,” Knot said. “Inflation is back, and with it (the prospect of) tighter financing conditions. This has the potential to crystallise vulnerabilities that have been building for some time, such as high debt levels in the non-financial sector and stretched valuations.”

It further sets out the FSB’s plans to assess and address emerging challenges, including in commodity markets, in the coming months.

The Russia-Ukraine war has also brought on concerns about the growth and potential use of crypto-assets. The FSB is now taking forward work on the regulation and supervision of ‘unbacked’ crypto-assets and ‘stablecoins’.

Watch: Russian sanctions: Treasury Secretary Yellen on Russian sanctions and the G20