Lavrov to tell G20 world is ‘on brink of disaster’ and rip into US at Delhi gathering

Sergei Lavrov in Delhi on Wednesday  (AP)
Sergei Lavrov in Delhi on Wednesday (AP)

The Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov will condemn the “destructive policy” of the United States and its allies at a meeting of G20 foreign ministers as the year-long Russian war in Ukraine casts a shadow over the summit in Delhi.

Mr Lavrov will focus on “attempts by the West to take revenge for the inevitable disappearance of the levers of dominance from its hands”, the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

Germany has pledged to counter Russian “propaganda” at the two-day foreign minister’s gathering which started on Wednesday. Foreign ministers and delegations from 40 countries have gathered in India’s capital for the summit.

While host countries can extend invitations to non-member countries such as Ukraine, India has not called on Kyiv to attend – but has invited nine guest nations: Bangladesh, Egypt, Netherlands, Mauritius, Nigeria, Oman, Singapore, Spain and the UAE.

India has sought to gain leverage on the international stage by avoiding calling the conflict a “war” and doing business with Russia on the one hand, while attempting to soothe the West’s concerns that it is not being tougher on Moscow on the other.

Mr Lavrov will also raise the issue of the damaged Nord Stream gas pipeline and seizure of Russian humanitarian fertiliser shipments in what he called as act of terrorism by the European Union and Nato.

“The destructive policy of the US and its allies have already put the world on the brink of a disaster, provoked a rollback in socio-economic development and seriously aggravated the situation of the poorest countries,” the foreign ministry said. “We are set to clearly state Russia’s assessments of the current security, energy and food situation.”

Indian foreign minister S Jaishankar, left, with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov (AP)
Indian foreign minister S Jaishankar, left, with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov (AP)

India’s foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra said the Russia-Ukraine conflict was an “important point of discussion” but called on counterparts to “focus on priorities relevant in global context” and avoided questions from reporters and foreign media about the war.

This will be the second ministerial-level G20 meeting. The first, of finance ministers in the southern tech city Bengaluru, ended without a traditional joint statement or communiqué because Indian officials wanted to term the Ukraine invasion a “crisis” or a “challenge”.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken and China’s foreign minister Qin Gang are due to attend but a bilateral meeting is in doubt after the shooting down of a Chinese balloon on 4 February.

The Delhi summit will also put Mr Blinken and Mr Lavrov on the same platform as the two have not been in the same room since last year’s G20 leaders’ summit in Bali, Indonesia, when the Russian diplomat walked out.

“China can’t have it both ways when it comes to the Russian aggression in Ukraine. It can’t be putting forward peace proposals on the one hand while actually feeding the flames of the fire that Russia has started with the other hand,” Mr Blinken said on Tuesday in the Kazakh capital, Astana.

British foreign minister James Cleverly, who has held talks with Indian foreign minister S Jaishanker, will “continue to call out Russian aggression in Ukraine” at the summit, the UK foreign office said.

He was meeting his counterpart for the first time since the Indian government carried out raids at BBC offices across the country following the broadcast of a documentary that highlighted Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s role in the 2002 Gujarat riots.