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G20 foreign ministers meet amid Ukraine war, US-China tensions

Top US diplomat Antony Blinken is set to face Russia’s Sergey Lavrov for a G20 meeting, with Ukraine and tensions with China set to overshadow attempts to forge unity among the world’s top economies.

A meeting was seen as unlikely between the two men, who have not been in the same room since a G20 meeting in Bali in July when, according to Western officials, the Russian foreign minister walked out.

Lavrov arrived late on Tuesday in India, which has not condemned the war, and will use his G20 attendance to lay into the West, according to the Russian foreign ministry.

Western countries want to “take revenge for the inevitable disappearance of the levers of dominance from its hands,” the ministry’s English-language statement said.

“The destructive policy of the US and its allies has already put the world on the brink of a disaster, provoked a rollback in socio-economic development and seriously aggravated the situation of the poorest countries,” it added.

Last week, a meeting of G20 finance ministers in Bengaluru failed to agree on a common statement after Russia and China sought to water down language on the Ukraine war.

READ MORE: Ukraine intel head brushes aside US claims on China arming Russia

‘Spy balloon’

Similarly in doubt on the sidelines of the two-day G20 gathering in New Delhi was a meeting between Blinken and his Chinese counterpart Qin Gang.

Blinken had a fiery encounter with top Chinese diplomat Wang Yi last month in Germany after the US shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon over its east coast on February 4.

The incident led Blinken to nix a rare trip to China, slamming the “unacceptable violation of US sovereignty and international law” which “must never again occur,” the State Department said.

Beijing, which has also been angered by Washington’s stance on Taiwan, denies it uses spy balloons and says the craft was for weather research.

Wang “urged the US side to change course, acknowledge and repair the damage that its excessive use of force caused to China-US relations,” state news agency Xinhua reported.

Blinken was also expected to meet on Friday with his counterparts from the Quad group – Japan, Australia and India – that is seen as a bulwark against China in the Asia-Pacific region.

Hosting the G20 puts India in a tricky position because while it shares Western concerns about China, it is also a major buyer of Russian arms and has ramped up oil imports.

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