Trudeau calls on G20 to reconsider Russia's seat at the table

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday that the G20 nations must re-evaluate the participation of Russia and its president Vladimir Putin following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

China opposes calls to remove Russia from group of world's largest economies

Prime Minster Justin Trudeau says G20 leaders are discussing Russia's future with the group. (Alberto Pezzali/The Associated Press/Pool)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday that the G20 group of nations must re-evaluate the participation of Russia and its president Vladimir Putin following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"When it comes to Vladimir Putin sitting around that table with the rest of us, that's going to be extraordinarily difficult for us and unproductive for the G20," Trudeau told reporters before entering the House of Commons.

"Bottom line, it can't be business as usual to have Vladimir Putin sitting around the table pretending that everything is OK. Because it's not OK and it's his fault."

Trudeau said the G20, which he described as a group dedicated to ensuring economic growth, will not be able to function with Russian participation.

"Russia has, right now, with its illegal invasion of Ukraine, upended economic growth for everyone around the world and can't possibly be a constructive partner in how we manage … the crisis," he said.

The G20's next meeting is set to take place from November 15 to 16 in Bali, Indonesia.

Russia's ambassador to Indonesia has said Putin plans to attend.

"It will depend on many, many things, including the COVID situation, which is getting better. So far, his intention is ... he wants to," said ambassador Lyudmila Vorobieva last week.

Russian officials say president Vladimir Putin, seen here on March 25, plans to attend the November meeting of G20 leaders in Indonesia. (Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik/Kremlin Pool/The Associated Press)

The G20 comprises the world's largest economies and includes the European Union among its members.

Numerous members have condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine, imposed punishing sanctions on Russia and supplied weapons and equipment to the Ukrainian military during the conflict.

U.S. President Joe Biden said last week he believes Russia should be expelled from the group, if other members agree.

"My answer is yes, [but] it depends on the G20," he told reporters on March 24 following the NATO summit in Brussels.

Exclusion could drive food crisis

Biden said that if other G20 members don't agree that Russia should be banned from the group, Ukraine — which is not a member — should be invited to attend the November meetings.

The head of German aid group Welthungerhilfe said that excluding Russia from the Group of 20 major economies and other international institutions could slow efforts to address a worsening global food crisis exacerbated by the war.

Mathias Mogge, chief executive of the group, which serves 14.3 million people with projects in 35 countries, says it was critical to maintain communication with Russia, one of the world's largest producers of wheat, in tackling the crisis.

"Of course, Russia is the aggressor here, and there needs to be sanctions and everything. But in a humanitarian situation as we have it today, there must be open lines of communication." Mogge said in an interview with Reuters this week.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine is driving food prices sharply higher across the world and triggering shortages of staple crops in parts of central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, according to United Nations officials.

Consensus unlikely

Trudeau said conversations among G20 leaders and the group's chair about Russia's status in the group are continuing, but reaching a consensus on the question appears unlikely.

China, which has criticized Western intervention in the Ukraine crisis, voiced support for Russia's continued membership in the G20 as recently as last week.

"Russia is an important member and no member has the right to remove another country as a member. The G20 should implement real multilateralism, strengthen unity and co-operation," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a news conference on March 23.

India, which has abstained from all United Nations votes condemning Russia's actions, may also be unwilling to push for Russia's removal.

With files from Reuters