Indonesia evaluating calls to remove Russia from G-20

Indonesia, which holds the presidency of the grouping this year, said it will disclose its stance when the time comes. PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA - Indonesia is evaluating calls from the United States and its Western allies to remove Russia from the Group of 20 (G-20) over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

The South-east Asian nation, which holds the presidency of the grouping this year, said on Thursday (April 7) that it will disclose its stance when the time comes.

"We are currently looking into it. Indeed, it requires a very careful consideration from us as the presidency of G-20 on how to respond. We will convey (our position) to the public when the time comes," Dr Dedy Permadi, special adviser to the Communication and Information Minister, said in an online media briefing.

His remarks were in response to a reporter's question on US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen's statement that the US will not participate in a number of meetings of the G-20 if Russia is a participant.

"President Biden made it clear, and I certainly agree with him, that it cannot be business as usual for Russia in any of the financial institutions," Dr Yellen told the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday.

"He's asked that Russia be removed from the G-20, and I've made clear to my colleagues in Indonesia that we will not be participating in a number of meetings if the Russians are present."

Dr Yellen was referring to the April 20 G-20 finance ministers and central bank governors meeting on the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Spring Meetings in Washington, as well as associated deputies' meetings, according to the US Treasury.

Kyodo News reported that the G-20 finance ministers have decided not to issue a joint statement after their April meeting, citing people it did not name.

Indonesia took over from Italy and assumed the G-20 presidency last December and has been hosting meetings in Bali, Jakarta and Yogyakarta. It will hold a finance meeting in July and the summit in Bali on Nov 15-16.

The April finance meeting will be held both in-person and virtually, and Russia's participation is unclear at present.

Moscow has said that President Vladimir Putin intends to attend the G-20 summit in Bali and Russia has received China's backing to stay in the group.

Dr Yellen's comments came as the Biden administration announced a new round of sanctions to punish Russia, including banning Americans from investing in Russia and locking Sberbank, Russia's largest lender and holder of a third of its bank deposits, out of the US financial system, along with other institutions. But transactions allowing European allies to purchase Russian oil and natural gas were exempted through special Treasury licences.

After its annexation of Crimea in 2014, Russia was suspended indefinitely from the then Group of Eight.

Refugees from Ukraine with Red Cross staff at a facility near Turin, Italy, on April 7, 2022. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

On March 24, Indonesia's G-20 co-sherpa Dian Triansyah Djani said the country would not close the grouping to Russia, stressing that Jakarta will chair the grouping this year "in line with the previous presidency".

"Every organisation has its own rules of procedures, precedents and manners to discuss issues," Mr Dian told a virtual press briefing at that time.

Among Jakarta's priority issues during its presidency are strengthening the global health architecture and fostering a sustainable energy transition.

Last month, delegates from member countries and international organisations attended health working group meetings in Yogyakarta, either in-person or virtually. Besides Russia, the other countries and international bodies represented included Australia, Britain, Canada, China, India, Japan, the World Health Organisation and the World Bank. The US did not attend the meetings.

The Straits Times understands that some delegates from the Western nations made sarcastic remarks about Russia on the invasion of Ukraine, during the discussions on ways to standardise Covid-19 protocols to facilitate international travels.

The G-20 is a strategic multilateral platform connecting the world's major developed and emerging economies. It comprises 19 countries and the European Union, working together on major issues such as international financial stability and climate change.

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