Putin's Top Diplomat Cornered As David Cameron Tells Him Russia Must 'Pay' For Ukraine

The UK's foreign secretary was not the only one to go in for a face-to-face confrontation with Sergei Lavrov at a G20 meeting on Wednesday.
Sergei Lavrov and David Cameron at the G20 meeting in Rio de Janeiro
Sergei Lavrov and David Cameron at the G20 meeting in Rio de Janeiro

David Cameron and other top diplomats slammed Russia’s representative in a tense face-to-face G20 meeting on Wednesday.

Cameron later claimed Russia’s foreign affairs minister Sergei Lavrov was left looking away at his phone as the criticism came in thick and fast.

The reported clash occurred at a meeting of top diplomats from the 20 largest economies in the world – including the UK, US and Russia – in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro.

According to reports, the UK’s foreign secretary slammed Russia at the meeting, saying it “must be made to pay for its aggression” in Ukraine.

Cameron said: “This is no more serious an issue for the world, and it’s the world that’s gathered here, than one country invading another in this completely illegal and unacceptable way.

“And the whole world should get behind Ukraine, should support Ukraine, and should call out the illegality of what Putin and his cronies have done.”

The foreign secretary later told the BBC’s Ione Wells that France, Canada and Germany also used their speeches to name Putin’s most prominent critic Alexei Navalny.

He died under mysterious circumstances last week while serving in a Russian penal colony.

According to Wells, a handful of countries held Russia responsible for Navalny’s “murder” – but Lavrov “looked away and at his phone” in response.

Cameron also claimed that he asked the countries in the room if there was anything more important to them than their own nation’s sovereignty, telling Wells this was an important message for Russia’s allies in the room to hear.

The foreign secretary’s remarks came after he had vowed to call out “Russia’s aggression” ahead of the meeting.

Journalists were not allowed into the meeting room, where each nation’s representative gets five minutes to speak in alphabetical order.

Norway’s foreign minister, Espen Barth Eide, also sided with Ukraine, later telling reporters: “We have to support Ukraine until it emerges as a free and independent sovereign country without another army on its soil.”

He claimed Lavrov actually replied to Cameron’s remarks with “a set of alternative facts”.

Lavrov himself chose not to speak to reporters after the summit.

Russia widely refers to the war as a “special military operation”, and presents it as a mission against Nazism – a baseless accusation it has repeatedly made against Kyiv – and a means to defend itself against the West’s alleged aggression towards Russia.

At the last G20 summit in India, the group’s leaders did not quite condemn Russia for its aggression in a declaration, but acknowledged that no states should use force to grab territory.

Brazil’s foreign minister used this week’s meeting to lambast the United Nations, saying the UN Security Council had been unable to stop wars – pointing to both Ukraine and Gaza.

The main G20 summit of 2024 will be held in November, in Brazil.


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