Rishi Sunak confronts Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov at G20 summit in Indonesia


Rishi Sunak has confronted Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov at the G20 summit overnight, telling him to ‘get out of Ukraine and end this barbaric war’. 

Mr Sunak, in the first face-to-face meeting between a British Prime Minister and a senior Russian leader since the war began, said the ‘Putin regime’ had turned Russia into a pariah state and the UK would support Ukraine ‘for as long as it takes’. 

It was ‘notable’ that the Russian president had decided not to attend the summit in person, Mr Sunak said, before adding: ‘Countries should not invade their neighbours, they should not attack [civilians] and they should not threaten nuclear escalation.’

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, addressing the G20 and Mr Lavrov remotely, added that it is time for the war to stop – but that peace can only be achieved when Russian troops leave all the land they currently occupy.

Rishi Sunak confronted Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov at the G20 overnight, telling him to 'get out of Ukraine and end this barbaric war'

Rishi Sunak confronted Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov at the G20 overnight, telling him to ‘get out of Ukraine and end this barbaric war’

Mr Lavrov was attending the summit in place of Vladimir Putin, who said he was 'too busy' to face the global community as his invasion of Ukraine goes from bad to worse

Mr Lavrov was attending the summit in place of Vladimir Putin, who said he was ‘too busy’ to face the global community as his invasion of Ukraine goes from bad to worse

Mr Sunak faced off with Lavrov across a conference table, the first time a British Prime Minister and senior Russian leader have come face-to-face since the war began

Mr Sunak faced off with Lavrov across a conference table, the first time a British Prime Minister and senior Russian leader have come face-to-face since the war began

Kyiv will not compromise its sovereignty, territory or independence in return for peace, Zelensky said, as he called for the release of all Ukrainian prisoners.

‘I am convinced now is the time when the Russian destructive war must and can be stopped,’ he told the summit on the island of Bali, according to a copy of his speech reviewed by Reuters.

‘Please choose your path for leadership – and together we will surely implement the peace formula,’ he said.

Kyiv also welcomed Chinese comments criticising threats to use nuclear weapons, after US President Joe Biden and Chinese president Xi Jinping met on Monday.

The two leaders ‘underscored their opposition to the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine,’ the White House said in a readout of the meeting in Indonesia on the eve of the summit.

‘Nuclear weapons should not be used and nuclear wars should not be fought,’ Xi told Biden, according to China’s foreign minister Wang Yi who was at the meeting.

Putin has repeatedly suggested Russia could use nuclear weapons to defend its territorial integrity, interpreted in the West as an implicit threat to use them over lands Moscow claims to have annexed in Ukraine.

Volodymyr Zelensky also addressed the summit remotely, saying that peace in Ukraine is only possible when Russian hands back all the territory it currently occupies

Volodymyr Zelensky also addressed the summit remotely, saying that peace in Ukraine is only possible when Russian hands back all the territory it currently occupies

Mr Sunak (centre) told Lavrov (left) that it was 'notable' Vladimir Putin did not feel he could face the international community himself following the invasion

Mr Sunak (centre) told Lavrov (left) that it was ‘notable’ Vladimir Putin did not feel he could face the international community himself following the invasion

Xi and Putin have grown close in recent years, bound by their shared distrust of the West, and China has refrained from publicly criticising Russia for the invasion.

Zelensky welcomed Monday’s remarks, saying in an address late Monday: ‘Everyone understands to whom these words are addressed.’

The United States expects the G20 to condemn Russia’s war in Ukraine and its impact on the global economy, a senior U.S. official said.

Russia is a member of the group so consensus on Ukraine is unlikely, and the official declined to say what form the condemnation would take.

Speaking in Bali, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said Putin’s government would hear the chorus of global opposition to its actions.

‘Russia’s actions put all of us at risk,’ he said.

Russia has said Putin is too busy to attend the summit.

Moscow says it is waging a ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine to rid it of nationalists and protect Russian-speaking communities. Ukraine and the West describe the Kremlin’s actions as an unprovoked war of aggression.

Ukraine has repeatedly said it is ready for peace, but will not cede territory.

‘Ukrainian servicemen accept no talks, no agreements or compromise decisions,’ Commander-in-Chief Valery Zaluzhny wrote on Telegram late on Monday after a telephone conversation with the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley.

Russia is almost nine months into the war and has achieved none of its pre-war goals while causing huge devastation to both Ukraine and its own military

Russia is almost nine months into the war and has achieved none of its pre-war goals while causing huge devastation to both Ukraine and its own military

Kherson city had been the only regional capital captured by Russia since the invasion in February and Putin had proclaimed it ‘eternally Russian’ six weeks ago.

Olga Fedorova, an English teacher in Kherson throughout the occupation, said lack of electricity or mobile internet connection meant many were unaware of events until Ukrainian troops raised their flag in the main square on Nov. 11.

‘We couldn’t believe, we still can’t believe that our Ukrainian army is here,’ she said. ‘We have been waiting for them all this time, all this eight and a half months.’

Residents in and around Kherson interviewed by Reuters since Friday have described killings and abductions.

Reuters reported one account of a neighbour shot dead and three accounts of people carried off by troops in the village of Blahodatne north of Kherson.

It was not possible to verify the accounts independently.

Russia denies its troops target civilians or have committed atrocities in Ukraine. Mass burial sites have been found in other parts previously occupied by Russian troops, including some with civilian bodies showing signs of torture.

The United Nations General Assembly on Monday voted to approve a resolution recognising that Russia must be responsible for making reparations to Ukraine, in a non-binding move backed by 94 of its 193 members.



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