Canada says Russian presence at G-20 meeting was 'absurd'

Having Russian delegates at the G-20 meeting (above) was said to be, "like inviting an arsonist to a meeting of firefighters.” PHOTO: REUTERS

MONTREAL (AFP) - Russia's participation in a meeting of Group of 20 (G-20) finance ministers that was overshadowed by its invasion of Ukraine was absurd, Canada said on Saturday (July 16).

During two days of talks on the Indonesian resort island Bali, the finance chiefs looked for solutions to food and energy crises, while accusing Russian technocrats of exacerbating the problems.

Divided over Russia's war, participants failed to issue a final statement.

Canadian Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said her government protested at the gathering that it did not even want Russia to be there.

"Russia's presence at this meeting was like inviting an arsonist to a meeting of firefighters," she told a news conference by telephone from Bali.

"That is because Russia is directly and solely responsible for the illegal invasion of Ukraine, and its economic consequences, which are being felt by us all," Freeland said.

"We were clear and explicit that Russia's participation was inappropriate and frankly, just absurd," said Freeland, who is also Canada's deputy prime minister and of Ukrainian heritage.

She argued that Russian technocrats who, she said, work to fund the war launched by President Vladimir Putin are as complicit in war crimes as the generals out in the field who are attacking Ukraine.

Freeland also defended Canada's decision to allow the return to Germany of a turbine, repaired in Canada, for use in the Nord Stream 1 pipeline delivering Russian gas to Europe.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has harshly criticised this decision.

"The energy challenges that Germany and many of our European partners face are very real. And Canada recognises that," the minister said.

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