US Secretary of State Antony Blinken plans to avoid appearing in official group photos with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the G20 foreign ministers meeting in Bali this week, and will do his best to to refute the false accounts of his Russian counterparts about the war in Ukraine, according to a US official familiar with the matter.
For weeks, the United States and its G7 allies — all of whom are part of the G20 — have been discussing how to approach Lavrov’s attendance at meetings of the world’s 20 largest economies in Bali, according to U.S. diplomats and Europeans familiar with conversations.
Many different ideas were discussed, including UK officials testing the waters by boycotting meetings altogether, but that strategy was ultimately not pursued, a UK official said.
Blinken is not planning – at this time – to participate in an organized exit with allies, US officials said. Part of the math is that the Biden administration wants to challenge Russia, not cede to them, the official said.
Another part of the math is that the United States doesn’t want to embarrass Indonesians hosting the event, the official said, describing it as a “delicate balancing act”.
The United States wants to be seen as acting in unison with G7 allies, diplomats have said. Things could change, however, as the United States is still “tweaking” its approach and will have to react depending on what happens in the meetings, the official said.
This will be the first time Blinken and Lavrov have been in the same place since Russia invaded Ukraine, and Blinken’s approach to his Russian counterpart could foreshadow how President Joe Biden could approach President Vladimir Putin more later this year if the two leaders attend the G20 leaders’ summit. .