Thursday, February 22

The US and the UK will boycott Russia at the G20

  • Yellen and Sunak, heads of Economy, will not attend several meetings in protest against the invasion of Ukraine

  • The challenge of maintaining pressure from Moscow hinders the necessary global response to the crises unleashed by the conflict

The US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and the UK Finance Minister Rishi Sunak going to boycott this wednesday several G20 meetings in Washington in which his Russian counterpart virtually participates to protest the invasion of Ukraine.

The gesture carries symbolic weight and exemplifies the effort to intensify pressure on Moscow and efforts to isolate Vladimir Putin. At the same time, it poses challenges, especially given that in the sessions, which make up the first G20 meeting since the war began and arrive within the framework of the spring assembly of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, global and coordinated responses must also be sought to the economic and food crises that has triggered the conflict, of which the IMF warned this Tuesday.

The pressure campaign is complex. A large part of the G20 countries, the group from which Washington has asked Russia to be expelled, are united in condemning Moscow and in applying sanctions, although differences in these punishments also underline the different degree of economic ties with Russia and dependence, especially in Eastern Europe, in the energy field. There are, however, members of the G-20 such as Chinaand the democracies of IIndia, Brazil and South Africa, what They have not joined the punishment campaign.

Some voices have questioned the wisdom of Yellen’s decision, that she will attend the opening session of the G20 to show support for Ukraine’s finance minister, who has moved to Washington. She has called it a “mistake”, for example, Ariel Cohen, from the Eurasia Center of the Atlantic Council, who has told ‘The Washington Post’ that “participate in any forum in which the position can be articulated is better than ceding territory or the battlefield to Russia”.

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Biden video conference

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The Joe Biden Administration, in any case, continues to try to articulate punishment and pressure. This Tuesday the American president has maintained a videoconference of almost an hour and a half with their counterparts from Canada, Japan, UK, Germany, Italy, Romania and Polandas well as with the leaders of the European Union Ursula von del Leyen and Charles Michel, and with the secretary general of the NATO, Jens Stoltenberg. In that session, the commitment to continue providing humanitarian, economic and security support to Ukraine was also reiterated.

There are also differences in this last aspect. Germany, for example, remains reluctant to respond to Ukrainian demands for heavy weapons. Washington, which recently approved a new package of $800 million, which raises the aid allocated to Ukraine to 2,600, has sent five flights full of military material to Europe in recent days to be distributed in the invaded country. Included in this shipment for the first time heavy artillery systems, specifically 18 Howitzer guns, in whose management the American army is going to offer training to the Ukrainians, training people outside Ukraine who will then repeat the training inside the country. There’s also armored vehicles and 40,000 rounds of ammunition.

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