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Putin aide Lavrov forced to sit and listen as G20 slams Russia over invasion of Ukraine

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov was forced to sit and listen at the G20 summit in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday as Russia was lambasted for Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Top diplomats from the US, UK, Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy, France and Norway gathered in Brazil – holder of the G20 presidency this year – as they made scathing remarks against Russia at the start of the two-day meeting which Mr Lavrov is attending.

Addressing the closed session, British foreign secretary David Cameron said Russia “must be made to pay for its aggression”.

"There is no more serious an issue for the world, and it’s the world that’s gathered here, than one country invading another in this completely illegal and unacceptable way,” he said.

"And the whole world should get behind Ukraine, should support Ukraine, and should call out the illegality of what Putin and his cronies have done," Mr Cameron said.

The foreign secretary also noted the death of Russian critic and opposition figure Alexei Navalny in a Russian prison last week.

He had promised ahead of the Rio meeting to “call out Russia’s aggression” directly to Mr Lavrov.

Norwegian foreign minister Espen Barth Eide said the G20 session mainly focussed on the continuing conflicts in Gaza and Ukraine.

“We have to support Ukraine until it emerges as a free and independent sovereign country without another army on its soil,” Mr Eide said.

He added that Mr Lavrov replied to the British foreign secretary’s remarks with “a set of alternative facts” about events in Ukraine.

Mr Lavrov did not speak to reporters or share details of his remarks at the summit.

Russia initially justified its invasion of Ukraine two years ago, which it calls a "special military operation", as a campaign to "de-Nazify" the former Soviet country, despite the fact Ukraine is led by a democratically-elected Jewish president in Volodymyr Zelensky.

It now claims it is fighting to defend its borders against Western aggression, after many countries around the world moved to support Ukraine with financial and military aid.

In the previous G20 summit hosted by India, the group’s leaders adopted a declaration that avoided condemning Russia for the war in Ukraine but called on all states not to use force to grab territory.

This week’s gathering in Rio is aimed at formulating the agenda for Brazil’s main G20 summit, which will be held in November.

Criticising the UN and other multilateral institutions for their inability to prevent global conflicts, Brazil’s foreign minister Mauro Vierira called for reforms of the global agency.

He said the UN Security Council has been unable to prevent or halt conflicts such as those playing out in Ukraine and the Gaza Strip.