Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov meets with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Denpasar on July 7, 2022. (Photo by Handout / RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY / AFP)
BALI, Indonesia (AFP) — Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Bali Thursday to discuss Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine ahead of a G20 ministerial meeting overshadowed by the war.
The pair were pictured holding a bilateral meeting on the Indonesian resort island as the world’s top economies gather to discuss the most pressing global issues on Friday, with the Ukraine war at the top of the agenda.
Despite criticism, Beijing has upheld friendly ties with Russia as Western nations have sought to isolate President Vladimir Putin’s government from the global financial and diplomatic order over the military assault on its neighbour.
Lavrov informed Wang “about the implementation of the main missions of the special military operation” in Ukraine and reiterated Moscow’s rhetoric that its aim is to “denazify” the country, a Russian foreign ministry statement said.
“Both parties underlined the unacceptable nature of unilateral sanctions adopted by circumventing the UN.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov meets with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Denpasar on July 7, 2022. (Photo by Handout / RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE – MANDATORY CREDIT “AFP PHOTO / Russian Foreign Ministry / handout” – NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS – DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will be in attendance and is set to hold bilateral talks with Wang on Saturday.
But he will shun a direct meeting with his Russian counterpart even though they are set for their first showdown since the outbreak of war in February.
Blinken last saw Lavrov in January in Geneva, where the top US diplomat warned Russia of massive consequences if it went ahead and invaded Ukraine, which it did on February 24.
Washington has argued Russia should no longer be a member of the international forum, a position echoed by some Western allies.
But the Russian foreign ministry said Lavrov and Wang stressed “the need for the maintenance and development of the G20” in their meeting.
Blinken will use the meeting — which is a prelude to a leaders’ summit in November — to lobby allies that have been at odds with its position on Ukraine, such as India, to pull away from Moscow.
But China has refused to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and has been accused of providing diplomatic cover for the Kremlin by blasting Western sanctions and arms sales to Kyiv.
Beijing pursues an independent foreign policy toward Russia and both reject interference from what they have called “third parties”.
A meeting between Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping in February ended with the pair declaring a “new era” of international relations with “no limits” to their relationship.
Xi assured Putin of China’s support for Russian “sovereignty and security” in a phone call last month.
The United States swiftly weighed in, condemning China for “investing in close ties to Russia” despite claiming to be neutral.
© Agence France-Presse