WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 20, 2022)—Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen will boycott several meetings of the powerful Group of 20 nations this week to protest Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with a conference in Washington emerging as a key test for world leaders who have condemned the war.
Some critics suggested that Yellen should remain in the room to confront Russia directly over its actions, arguing that the meetings represent a rare opportunity for U.S. officials to challenge the Kremlin’s war effort. Yellen may skip G-20 sessions about sustainable finance that her Russian counterpart Siluanov is also expected to attend, for instance.
“I think it’s a mistake — getting into any forum where the U.S. can articulate our position is better than ceding territory or ceding the battlefield to Russia,” said Ariel Cohen, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center. “I understand a lot of the delegations are not professional communicators, but they can be trained. … They can make Russia’s presence there undesirable.”
The quandary over participation in the G-20 reflects a broader, growing problem for U.S. policymakers hoping to influence a world with increasingly powerful economic competitors. The smaller G-7 group, mostly close U.S. allies, has been more unified in condemning Russia. But as countries such as China and India have grown in economic might, Western leaders have increasingly been forced to collaborate with them to sway the global economic system. That has raised the relevance of the larger G-20, though that body remains harder for the United States to influence.
“The question of boycotting the G-20 — while a defensible and understandable action at this time — does raise the longer-term issue of how to manage a global economy with powerful and diverse actors,” said Mark Sobel, who spent four decades working on international economic issues at the Treasury Department and is now a senior adviser to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank. “To really steer the global economy, you need a bigger group than the G-7.”
G20 Meeting February 17, 2022
President Biden has previously called for Russia to be expelled from the G-20 over the invasion of Ukraine. The G-20 is composed of 20 of the world’s largest economies. The group has no current process for kicking out its members, according to Sobel, but it could be possible to suspend Russia if a consensus emerges to do so.
Yellen will also meet this week with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and with international economic officials including the finance ministers of Saudi Arabia and Italy, the governor of the Bank of England, and the European commissioner of the economy.
Source: WP wrote the original article.