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

In the first face-to-face clash between a British Prime Minister and a senior Kremlin figure since the war began, Mr Sunak said the ‘Putin regime’ had turned Russia into a pariah. 

He said it is unacceptable for any country to invade its neighbours, kill civilians and threaten nuclear war, adding the UK will back Ukraine for ‘as long as it takes’.

But Lavrov hit back, peddling Kremlin propaganda that the West was responsible for waging ‘hybrid warfare’ in Ukraine and that Kyiv’s ‘unreasonable demands’ are to blame for ‘dragging it out’.

The veteran diplomat, attending the conference instead of Russian president Vladimir Putin, who was ‘too busy’ to show up, cynically suggested Russia is trying to solve the world’s food and energy shortages – when in fact Moscow stands accused of causing them.

While Mr Sunak took a hard stance on Russia, he was accused of going soft on both China and Saudi Arabia. He refused to confirm Beijing will be labelled a ‘threat’ to the UK and failed to raise the murder of Jamal Khashoggi with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. 

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

Sunak warned not to soften stance on China

Rishi Sunak has been warned not to soften the UK’s stance on China after he declined to label the UK a ‘systemic threat’ to Britain.

Instead, the Prime Minister referred to Beijing as a ‘systemic challenge’ – saying that cooperation was needed to solve issues such as climate change, and China is an ‘indisputable fact of the global economy’.

Mr Sunak said he also hopes to meet leader Xi Jinping. 

Sir Iain Duncan Smith, veteran Tory and China hawk, warned this could be seen as ‘appeasement’.

He told Talk TV: ‘[Mr Sunak] said in the summer, categorically, that he considered China to be a systemic threat. 

‘So what we’re seeing here at the moment, I think, is the beginnings of a step away from his original position.

‘It’s time to call out [China’s aggressive moves] as what they are, a threat, [and] I hope he’s not about to do a U-turn, it would be completely wrong.

‘It would become really appeasement of China, which is what’s happening in Government at the moment.’

That is perhaps a sign that the UK sees itself being preoccupied by Ukraine and Russia’s invasion for the foreseeable future. Lavrov did little to raise the hopes of a peace deal when he spoke.

‘All problems are with the Ukrainian side,’ he said at a press conference after the main summit was over. ‘[Kyiv] is categorically refusing negotiations and putting forward conditions that are obviously unrealistic.’

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky is ‘not listening’ to the advice of other Western leaders, Lavrov suggested, saying he had laid out Moscow’s position in talks with French president Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Olaf Scholz.

‘The more Ukraine refuses to talk, the harder it will be to reach an agreement,’ Lavrov added. 

Zelensky, addressing the conference remotely, did say that it was time to end the war – but added that peace could only be achieved when Russia withdraws all of its troops from all occupied territory.

Kyiv will not compromise its sovereignty, territory or independence in return for peace, Zelensky added, 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.

‘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.

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

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

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

Sunak’s oil plea for Saudi Prince – and no mention of journalist’s murder 

Rishi Sunak today met with Saudi Arabia‘s controversial leader Mohammed bin Salman in a bid to ease volatility in global energy markets.

The Prime Minister held talks with the Saudi Crown Prince at the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, in their first discussions since Mr Sunak took office. 

Mr Sunak had been widely expected to use the meeting to plead for Saudi Arabia to produce more oil and gas, in response to the disruption to supplies caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Middle Eastern countries have been accused of playing into Vladimir Putin’s hands by cutting production in recent weeks.

Mr Sunak’s predecessor Boris Johnson faced accusations of going from ‘dictator to dictator’ to find new energy supplies when he visited Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in March. 

Downing Street today confirmed that Mr Sunak and the Saudi Crown Prince did discuss global energy markets, but PM did not bring up the gruesome murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

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.

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

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

Separately, Rishi Sunak met with Saudi Arabia’s controversial leader Mohammed bin Salman in a bid to ease volatility in global energy markets.

Mr Sunak had been expected to use the meeting to plead for Saudi Arabia to produce more oil and gas, in response to the disruption to supplies caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Downing Street today confirmed that while Mr Sunak and the Saudi Crown Prince discussed global energy markets, the PM did not bring up the gruesome murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

That is likely to draw criticism from human rights campaigners who have blasted them for cosying up to other oil-producing autocratic regimes in a bid to ease pressure on energy prices.  

Mr Sunak was also criticised by hawks within his own party for appearing to soften his stance on China.

The PM refused to say he would honour the plans of his predecessor Liz Truss to up the rhetoric against Beijing, by labelling it a ‘strategic threat’ – instead favouring the phrase ‘strategic challenge’.

Mr Sunak left open the possibility that he could meet Mr Xi, saying ahead of the Bali gathering: ‘Hopefully I will have a chance to talk to him too.’

But China hawk Sir Iain Duncan Smith warned of any move that may be seen as ‘appeasement’ of the Beijing regime.

He told Talk TV: ‘[Mr Sunak] said in the summer, categorically, that he considered China to be a systemic threat. 

‘So what we’re seeing here at the moment, I think, is the beginnings of a step away from his original position.

‘It’s time to call out [China’s aggressive moves] as what they are, a threat, [and] I hope he’s not about to do a U-turn, it would be completely wrong.

‘It would become really appeasement of China, which is what’s happening in Government at the moment.’

Rishi Sunak is pictured meeting with Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, during which he discussed supplies of oil to the West without mentioning the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi

Rishi Sunak is pictured meeting with Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, during which he discussed supplies of oil to the West without mentioning the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi

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

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

In Bali, Mr 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.

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 US Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley.

It comes as Zelensky visited the newly liberated southern city of Kherson.  

It had been the only regional capital captured by Russia since the start of the invasion and Putin had proclaimed it ‘eternally Russian’ six weeks ago.

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

‘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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