Chrystia Freeland is calling for Russia to be kicked out of the Group of 20 countries and the International Monetary Fund over its invasion of Ukraine, saying the war is to blame for current turbulence in the global economy.
The Deputy Prime Minister said Friday that she delivered this message directly to Russian diplomats in Washington at IMF and World Bank meetings this week.
“The IMF-World Bank meetings are a meeting of the firefighters, of ministers and central bank governors whose job it is to protect the global economy. Russia right now is the arsonist,” she told reporters at the Canadian embassy in the U.S. capital. “Russia should not have been at the G20 meeting. The arsonist has no place in a meeting of the firefighters.”
Ms. Freeland said much of the international community agreed that, in addition to committing “absolutely reprehensible war crimes” in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin was also damaging global trade by driving up energy prices and causing food shortages with his invasion.
She would not say whether steps to exclude Russia from the G20 or the IMF have been taken, or if other countries are on board with the push, only that Canada has been persistently advocating for it.
“We were very clear, both publicly and in closed-door meetings, that we believe Russia has no place today – while it is illegally invading Ukraine, killing Ukrainians, torturing Ukrainians – it has no place at the G20 table,” Ms. Freeland said.
The Group of Eight gave Russia the boot in 2014 over Mr. Putin’s invasion of Crimea, reverting the organization to the Group of Seven. Similar action would be more complicated in the larger G20, which includes several countries that have not condemned the invasion of Ukraine.
U.S. President Joe Biden expressed support for shutting Russia out of the G20 earlier this year. The group has also invited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to attend its leaders’ summit next month in Indonesia. Ms. Freeland said Ukrainian Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko was a significant presence at meetings this week, making the case for more action to punish Russian aggression.
Ms. Freeland also said she “had some conversations” about Elon Musk’s request for more government funding to keep his Starlink communications service active in Ukraine. But she would not say whether Canada would step in to help keep the system going.
Earlier on Friday, Mr. Musk, the Texas-based billionaire who also holds Canadian citizenship, said his company, SpaceX, needs more subsidies to continue operating Starlink in Ukraine. The satellite-based data terminals have been invaluable for Ukrainian forces’ communication needs in places where Russia has knocked out mobile service.
Mr. Musk said his company was losing US$20-million monthly providing the service in Ukraine. The Washington Post has previously reported that Starlink received subsidies this spring from the U.S. Department of Defence to help ship the terminals to Ukraine.
On Friday, meanwhile, the governor of Ukraine’s central bank made an international request that didn’t focus on the G20. Andriy Pyshnyi asked the Financial Action Task Force, a global watchdog for financial crimes, to expel Russia.
Since the start of the war, democratic countries have sought to put pressure on Russia through economic sanctions, as well as by excluding Moscow from the international community. Russian banks, for instance, have been partly cut off from the SWIFT system of international payments, making importing and exporting more difficult for the country.
Russia on Friday continued firing missiles at Ukrainian cities, reportedly part of a week-long campaign of revenge for a truck bomb that damaged the bridge between Russia and Crimea. The latest Russian attacks hit Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, blew up an apartment building in Mykolaiv and included strikes in Zaporizhzhia, near Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.
Mr. Putin’s leader in the Kherson region, in the meantime, asked for Russia to evacuate people from four cities, in the latest indication of Ukraine’s persistent advance. Kyiv has been steadily beating back Moscow’s troops in the south and west since this past summer. “We, residents of the Kherson region, of course know that Russia doesn’t abandon their own,” Vladimir Saldo said Friday.
Also on Friday, the Russian President suggested that his unpopular attempt to conscript swaths of Russian men to join the war effort would soon end. At a summit in Kazakhstan, the Russian leader said Friday that the military would reach its goal of mobilizing 300,000 reservists within two weeks.
Mr. Putin initially announced the move to counter Ukrainian battlefield gains. But it caused panic, particularly after reports that raw conscripts were being swiftly sent to the front lines with minimal training. Russian men stampeded for the border to avoid the draft.
On Friday, Mr. Putin said Russia had drafted 222,000 men, of whom 16,000 were now in combat. His open-ended order put no limit on the number of people who could be drafted, but Mr. Putin implied that he would wind down the effort shortly. He also tacitly acknowledged mounting consternation on the home front about how badly things are going for him on the battlefield.
“What is happening today is unpleasant,” he said, “to put it mildly.”
With reports from The Associated Press and Reuters