WASHINGTON (AP) — The last time Russia invaded Ukraine, in 2014, outraged world leaders expelled Russia from the Group of Eight industrialized nations, which quickly renamed itself the Group of Seven.
Eight years later, the G-7 still stands at seven – a collection of countries that come together to discuss big issues like trade, economics and security.
Last week, as world leaders gathered in Washington for spring meetings attended by officials from the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the G-7 and the entire Group of 20, it quickly became evident that despite Russia’s continued assault on Ukraine, its membership in the G-20 remains firmly intact.
While Russia has been turned into a pariah country by Western states, it will continue to be part of the G-20 and associated organizations unless member countries reach a consensus on its departure. This seems increasingly unlikely, as several countries, including China, Brazil and South Africa, have made it clear that they would support Russia’s membership of the G-20, which represents industrialized and emerging countries. .
Why would Russia want to stick around when their presence in the group is clearly unwelcome by many?
It has everything to gain by disrupting events and sowing general discord between countries in the forums. A glimpse of this was seen last week when Russia blocked the IMF’s top advisory board from issuing a statement condemning its invasion of Ukraine.
Faced with questions about what to do about Russia’s membership in the organization, various world finance leaders at the meetings alternately squirmed, ducked, walked out in protest or stood on square.
Asked about the prospect of ejecting Russia from the G-20, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva avoided calling for its ouster.
“There are clearly some very, very troubling facts that we have to face,” she said of Russia’s aggression. But then she pivoted to focus on the “need for cooperation” to solve big world problems.
“Make a list of issues that no country can solve alone,” she said, “and it is obvious that cooperation must continue.”
Nadia Calvino, Spain’s economy minister and chair of the IMF’s advisory board, lamented that the meeting was “obviously not business as usual”.
“Russia’s war against Ukraine has made it impossible to reach consensus on a statement,” she said, adding that the committee “has traditionally worked on the basis of consensus, so when a member breaks up, we cannot come to an agreement that the overwhelming majority of us would have wanted.’
The World Bank said it halted all programs in Russia and allied Belarus after the invasion in late February and has not approved any new investment in Russia since 2014 or Belarus since mid-2020. The IMF said it hadn’t lent money to Russia in decades and didn’t support any programs there.
The dispute at the IMF meeting highlighted the problems government leaders are likely to face in Indonesia in November, when G-20 leaders are due to meet in Bali. President Joe Biden has called for Russia’s expulsion from the group, but the United States did not say whether Biden would boycott the rally if Russia attended.
G-20 members are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan , Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, USA and EU. . Spain is invited as a permanent guest.
The United States and Canada have been the biggest critics of Russian membership.
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Canadian Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland were among a number of officials who walked out of a Group of 20 meeting on Wednesday when the Russian representative began speaking.
Freeland later tweeted, “This week’s meetings in Washington are about supporting the global economy – and Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine is a serious threat to the global economy. Russia should not participate or be included in these meetings.
But several countries, including China, Brazil and South Africa, have expressed their rejection of moves to eliminate Russia. They argued that engagement is more important than isolation in times of trouble.
“Expelling Russia would only isolate it and make it more difficult to achieve constructive engagement,” said Clayson Monyela, spokesman for South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation. “South Africa believes it is more valuable to hold Russia down and engage with it to find the lasting peace that we all yearn for.”
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has accused NATO of being responsible for the war in Ukraine.
Brazilian Foreign Minister Carlos França told a press conference in Brasilia that the exclusion of Russia “does not help us find a solution to the immediate problem we have”, which is the need to cease hostilities and ensure that Russia and Ukraine negotiate a lasting peace.
Stewart Patrick, director of the international institutions and global governance program at the Council on Foreign Relations, said boycotting the G-20 would be a mistake on the part of the United States. The Russians and others should take every opportunity to hammer the Russians,” in meetings later this year.
“The boycott is not sustainable,” he said. “There should be efforts to try to shame Russia. It would be a mistake for the United States to take their ball and go elsewhere, because we would leave a hole in the Chinese-controlled G-20.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said last month that Russia remains an “important member” of the G-20 and that no member has the right to expel another.
The G-20 should “practice genuine multilateralism, enhance solidarity and cooperation, and work together to address outstanding challenges in the fields of economy, finance and sustainable development,” Wang said.
Adam Lipsky, senior director of the Atlantic Council’s Geoeconomic Center, said Russia had the most to gain from the divisiveness sparked by the United States calling for its withdrawal.
“By showing up, they risk derailing the whole G-20,” he said of the Russians. .”
Associated Press writer Paul Wiseman in Washington contributed to this report. Alvares reported from Brasilia and Meldrum from Johannesburg.