G20 summit: is Putin in Bali? What has Rishi Sunak said about Russia and China as Biden and Xi Jinping meet

Rishi Sunak used his speech at the G20 summit to confront Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s representative in Bali.

The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has used this year’s G20 summit in Bali to criticise Russia and China, taking particular aim at Vladimir Putin for not attending.

The two-day event which begins today, Tuesday (15 November), will feature three plenaries: on food and energy security, health, and digital transformation.

The first, on food and energy, is a catch-all session, and Sunak used his speech to confront Russia’s representative – expected to be Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov – over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been invited to address the event virtually.

The new PM also criticised China, saying it was the biggest threat to the UK’s economic security and said he would consider sending the army to Taiwan in the case of an invasion. Here’s everything you need to know from the summit so far.

What is the G20?

The Group of 20 is an informal collection of many of the world’s biggest economic powers. The leaders first met in response to the 2008 financial crisis, establishing the G20 as the main global forum for economic co-operation.

It is made up of 19 countries and the European Union. The nations are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the UK and the US.

Will Putin be there?

No. Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, the chief of support for G20 events, previously told reporters in Denpasar, Indonesia, that Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov would lead the Russian delegation.

“The Indonesian government respects the decision of the Russian government, which President Putin himself previously explained to President Joko Widodo in a very friendly telephone conversation,” said Mr Pandjaitan.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak arrives at Ngurah Rai International Airport ahead of the G20 in Bali.

What did Rishi Sunak say about Russia?

The Prime Minister used the first summit session on Tuesday to confront Russia’s representative Sergei Lavrov with allies. Facing Sergei Lavrov in the plenary hall, the Prime Minister called on Moscow to “get out of Ukraine and end this barbaric war” as he blamed the conflict for worsening global economic challenges.

He criticised Russian President Vladimir Putin for shunning the meeting, saying: “Maybe if he had, we could get on with sorting things out”.

According to a Downing Street transcript of his speech to the closed session, the Prime Minister said: “Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine has profound implications for us all, because it has undermined the fundamental principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity.

“We all depend on these principles. They are the foundations of the international order. They must be upheld. It is very simple – countries should not invade their neighbours, they should not attack civilian infrastructure and civilian populations and they should not threaten nuclear escalation.”

He said the economic issues “we should be focusing on today are made much, much worse” by Moscow’s actions. “The weaponisation of energy and food is totally unacceptable,” he said, adding that Russia is “harming the most vulnerable people around the world” by destroying grain stores and blocking shipments. Mr Sunak urged fellow leaders to support the renewal of a deal allowing grain exports from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports to ease the global food crisis.

He continued: “One man has the power to change all of this. It is notable that Putin didn’t feel able to join us here. Maybe if he had, we could get on with sorting things out. Because the single biggest difference that anyone could make is for Russia to get out of Ukraine and end this barbaric war.” The Prime Minister said he “rejects this aggression” as he vowed to “back Ukraine for as long as it takes.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaks to Russian journalists. Picture, AP

What did Biden say to China’s president?

Joe Biden and Presideng Xi Jinping met in person for the first time since the US president took office. They greeted each other with a handshake at a luxury resort hotel in Indonesia, where they are attending the G20.

The US President objected to China’s “coercive and increasingly aggressive actions” toward Taiwan and raised human rights concerns about Beijing’s conduct in Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong during his first in-person meeting on Monday with President Xi, the White House said.

In a statement on the three-hour session at the G20 summit, the White House said Biden told Mr Xi that the US would “continue to compete vigorously” with China but that “competition should not veer into conflict”.

Biden and Xi also agreed that “a nuclear war should never be fought” and cannot be won, “and underscored their opposition to the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine”, the White House said.

They also agreed to “empower key senior officials” on areas of potential cooperation, including tacking climate change, and maintaining global financial, health and food stability.

It was not immediately clear whether that meant China would agree to restart climate change talks that Beijing had paused in protest of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in August.

White House officials and their Chinese counterparts spent weeks negotiating details of the meeting, which was held at Mr Xi’s hotel with translators providing simultaneous interpretation through headsets.

The leaders spoke while seated facing each other at two long tables separated by more than a dozen feet. Each leader was flanked by several mask-wearing aides.

US President Joe Biden and China’s President Xi Jinping shake hands as they meet on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Bali. Credit: Getty Images

What did Sunak say about China?

Sunak said China poses a systemic challenge to UK values and represents the “biggest state-based threat to our economic security” and that Britain would consider sending arms to help Taiwan to defend itself in the event of an attack from Beijing.

He told reporters travelling with him to Indonesia: “My view is that China poses a systemic challenge to our values and interests and it represents the biggest state-based threat to our economic security. I think that view, by the way, is highly aligned with our allies.”

The Prime Minister said it was “important” the UK defends itself against that, for example through the National Security Investment Act, which allows the Government to block investment in UK companies that might affect the country’s security.

He went on to say: “But I also think that China is an indisputable fact of the global economy and we’re not going to be able to resolve shared global challenges like climate change, or public health, or indeed actually dealing with Russia and Ukraine, without having a dialogue with them.” 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.”

Asked if he agreed with his predecessor that the UK should send arms to the self-governing island, Mr Sunak said this would be an option considered in a revamp of the review of foreign and defence policy. He added: “We’re looking at all of these policies as part of our refresh of the integrated review. Our policy on Taiwan is obviously there should be no unilateral change to the status and there should be a peaceful resolution to that situation. We stand ready to support Taiwan as we do in standing up to Chinese aggression.”

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak have a bilateral meeting at the Art Cafe Bumbu Bali in Nusa Dua as they attend the G20 .

Was Russian representative Sergei Lavrov taken to hospital?

Indonesian authorities said Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov visited and later left a Bali hospital ahead of the summit. However, Russia denied that he had been hospitalised. Bali Governor I Wayan Koster said Lavrov was taken to Sanglah Hospital, the island’s biggest, “for a health check-up”.

“He left the hospital after a brief check-up and his health is in good condition,” the governor said. Indonesian government and medical officials had said Lavrov, 72, had been treated for a heart condition. The hospital did not immediately comment.

Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova later denied that Lavrov had been hospitalised but did not address whether he had received treatment.

She posted a video of Lavrov, looking healthy in a T-shirt and shorts, in which he was asked to comment on the report of his treatment. “They’ve been writing about our president for 10 years that he’s fallen ill. It’s a game that is not new in politics,” Mr Lavrov says in the video.

Russia’s state news agency Tass cited Mr Lavrov as saying: “I’m in the hotel, reading materials for the summit tomorrow.” Lavrov is the highest-ranking Russian official at the gathering.

Will the traditional ‘family’ photo take place?

No not this time. The so-called family photo in which world leaders pose together at the summit has been scrapped. In a sign of the geopolitical tensions caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Indonesian hosts are understood to have axed the group photo opportunity.

The picture is a tradition at the annual meeting. Diplomats are also doubtful leaders will be able to agree a communique at the end of the summit, with none issued at previous finance or foreign affairs meetings this year.