Sunak vows to 'call' Russia over Ukraine in face-to-face meeting with Putin's minister

Prime Minister attends G20 summit in Bali a few days after Russia's withdrawal from Kherson

Rishi Sunak today vowed to "call on" Russia over its war on Ukraine when he met face-to-face with members of Vladimir Putin's inner circle for the first time as prime minister.

With the Russian president himself missing the G20 summit in the Indonesian resort of Bali, Sunak will instead pass his message of condemnation to Putin's foreign secretary and chief apologist Sergey Lavrov as they face each other at the conference table.

The confrontation comes as Putin's war plans sink deeper into chaos following Russia's withdrawal from Kherson, the only regional capital captured during the nine-month invasion.

Ukrainian police returned to the southern city on Saturday, along with state TV and radio services, following the withdrawal of Russian troops. Around 200 officers set up checkpoints and began documenting evidence of possible war crimes

Ukraine's military said it was monitoring stabilization measures, including defusing mines and neutralizing unexploded ordnance, to keep the city safe. But one official described conditions in Kherson after months of occupation as a "humanitarian catastrophe", with shortages of food, water and medicine.

"The invaders and collaborators did everything possible so that the people who remained in the city suffered as much as possible during the days, weeks, months of waiting," said Roman Holovnya, adviser to the mayor of Kherson. "The water supply is practically non-existent."

Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said the withdrawal from Kherson amounted to "another strategic failure" for Putin.

"In February, Russia failed to take any of its main objectives except for Kherson," Wallace said. "Now with that surrender, ordinary Russians must definitely ask themselves, 'What is all this for?'"

Russia still occupies about 70 percent of Kherson province, and its troops are now stationed in a wide line of defense on the left bank of the Dnipro river. President Volodymyr Zelensky suggested that some Russian soldiers remain in the city, disguised in civilian clothes.

After briefly explaining his foreign policy approach before becoming PM last month, the annual meeting of world leaders that opened in Bali on Tuesday gave Sunak an opportunity to introduce himself on the global stage.

But he faces a struggle to position himself as the leader of an international coalition against the invasion on the same level as Boris Johnson, who has gone to great lengths to put himself at the center of the global response, building a personal relationship with Mr Zelensky. .

The crisis in Ukraine is sure to dominate the two-day meeting at the expense of a formal agenda focused on energy, food and digital issues.

With Lavrov poised to exercise Moscow's veto on any proposed deal between the G20 nations, diplomats accepted that it would be impossible to produce a final communique at the regular meeting setting out common targets and commitments.

Preparing to leave for Bali, Mr Sunak said that the annual meeting of presidents, prime ministers and princes could not be "business as usual" while Russian troops were on Ukrainian soil.

He called for "coordinated and decisive action" by G20 members to counter the economic turmoil caused by the nine-month invasion by creating a "stable international platform" to control inflation and return to growth.

Thursday's Fall Statement, in which chancellor Jeremy Hunt is expected to set out a plan to fill the £60bn gap in UK finances, will be part of this effort to set the economy back to normal, he said.

"Putin's war has caused devastation around the world, destroyed lives and plunged the international economy into chaos," Sunak said.

“This G20 summit will not go on as usual. We will mention the Putin regime and express their contempt for the kind of international cooperation and respect for sovereignty that a forum like the G20 represents.

"In contrast to Putin's interference, the UK and our allies will work together to make progress that means solving the economic challenges we face and making life better for our people."

The PM's official spokesman said Sunak would use the opportunity presented by the summit to "ensure the Russian government takes into account the devastation they have caused to Ukraine, to their country and to the world".

The Bali summit comes a week before the November 19 expiration date for a deal that would allow shipments of Ukrainian grain to be exported via the Black Sea.

With Moscow delaying the renewal of the deal, Ukraine's foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba accused Russia of "playing the hunger game with the world".

The United Nations says 10 million tonnes of grain and other food have been exported from Ukraine under an initiative agreed in July, helping prevent a global food crisis.

But Russia's deputy foreign minister Sergei Vershinin said on Saturday that progress in extending the deal would not have been possible without unhindered access to Russia's own food and fertilizer exports to world markets.

Mr Kuleba said that in addition to raising barriers to the deal's continuation, Russia was engaging in "silent sabotage" by letting its inspectors drag their feet to allow shipments through.

Russia must not only "remain part of the initiative, but must also instruct its inspectors to act in good faith and to avoid any action, any step, that creates barriers and hinders the export of Ukrainian agricultural goods to global markets," he said. "Russia must - must - stop playing the hunger game with the world."

Mr Kuleba set a cautious note on Ukraine's win at Kherson. This article was written by EDUKASI CAMPUS. 

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