Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen directly confronted senior Russian officials during a meeting of finance ministers of the Group of 20 nations on Friday, calling it a “moral imperative” to end the war in Ukraine.
Her condemnation of the war was a rare direct interaction between American and Russian officials and occurred on the anniversary of a conflict that has divided the world and roiled the global economy. The United States has pledged to deliver more aid to Ukraine and to level more sanctions on Russia.
“I urge the Russian officials here at the G20 to understand that their continued work for the Kremlin makes them complicit in Putin’s atrocities,” Ms. Yellen said in a private session, according to remarks that were shared by a Treasury Department official. “They bear responsibility for the lives and livelihoods being taken in Ukraine and the harm caused globally.”
The comments were made during a session about “international financial architecture” that took place on the first day of a two-day gathering of top economic policymakers in Bengaluru. Senior Russian economic officials were in attendance, according to a Treasury official, who declined to characterize how they responded.
Such forums have become awkward affairs in the past year, with officials debating how to characterize Russia’s actions in the traditional joint statements that are produced at the conclusion of the meetings. In April, Ms. Yellen and several other finance ministers walked out of the room during a G20 meeting when Russia’s representative started speaking.
On Friday, Ms. Yellen said that the war was “the most important thing for the global economy” because it had caused headwinds for all the major economies.
“I urge my counterparts to redouble their efforts to support Ukraine and restrict Russia’s capacity to wage war,” Ms. Yellen said.