Western allies took another step toward isolating Russia on Wednesday when their representatives walked out of a G20 meeting as the country's financial officials spoke. Delegations from Britain, Canada, and the US—including Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen—left the session in Washington, Reuters reports. Yellin said she objected to the presence of a senior Russian official, and told Indonesia's finance minister earlier in the day that there cannot be "business as usual" in global economic affairs for Russia. Ukrainian officials left the session, as well.
"We are united in our condemnation of Russia's war against Ukraine," said Rishi Sunak, the UK's finance minister, "and will push for stronger international coordination to punish Russia." Others expressed concern about the growing divisions in the G20 causing dysfunction, per the Guardian. "The future of multilateralism is at risk at a time when we need it most," said Mohamed El-Erian, a former deputy director of the International Monetary Fund. The G20 sessions—involving financial officials of the 20 largest economies—are part of IMF meetings in Washington. El-Erian suggested governments work together outside the G20.
IMF officials warned this week that the war in Ukraine had increased the possibility of a lasting fragmentation of the world's economy into geopolitical blocs. They also said the war is pushing up inflation. A Russian statement quoted Finance Minister Anton Siluanov, who attended the meeting virtually, as urging delegations not to politicize its discussions, saying the G20 had always stuck to economic issues. And he criticized the Western sanctions on Russia. "Another aspect of the current crisis is the undermining of confidence in the existing international monetary and financial system," the statement said. Germany's finance minister blamed Russia for inflation, supply chain issues, and the global slowdown. "Russia must be isolated," Christian Lindner said. (Read more G20 stories.)