Sunak condemns 'barbaric' Ukraine war at G20

Sunak condemns 'barbaric' Ukraine war at G20
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has condemned Russia's "barbaric" war in Ukraine in front of Russia's Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, at the G20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia.

"It is notable that Putin didn't feel able to join us here," Sunak said at the Summit's opening session. "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."

Russian President Vladimir Putin has not attended the Summit, with his spokesperson blaming scheduling issues.

Sunak also suggested that he would not put any pressure on Kyiv to engage in peace talks with Moscow, claiming that such a decision is ultimately up to Ukrainians. "It's a bit unfair to say to the Ukrainians: 'look you should be negotiating' when your country and your civilian infrastructure is being relentlessly bombed, as it is currently," Sunak said.

Fighting words on China

Speaking to journalists on the plane on the way to Summit, Sunak was similarly critical of China although he refused to confirm whether, like his predecessor Liz Truss, he would officially designate China a "threat" to the UK.

"My view on China is straightforward," Sunak said. "I think that China unequivocally poses a systemic threat – a systemic challenge – to our values and our interests and is undoubtedly the biggest state-based threat to our economic security."

However, Sunak was careful to note that, in spite of the "challenge" posed by China to the UK, dialogue with the world's second-largest economy is nevertheless essential.

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"I also think that China is an indisputable fact of the global economy; 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,” Sunak said.

Sunak also emphasised the UK's "support" for Taiwan: a de facto independent island which Beijing – and, at least officially, the UK –regards as a province of China.

"Our policy on Taiwan is obviously there should be no unilateral change to the status [quo] 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.”

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