EU leader calls on world and China to put pressure on Russia

By FOSTER KLUG – Associated Press

NUSA DUA, Indonesia (AP) — The president of the European Council on Tuesday urged world powers to step up pressure on Russia in its war against Ukraine, including Moscow’s biggest supporter China, saying the meeting of the world’s largest economies was crucial to stopping Moscow’s push “to use food and energy as weapons.”

Charles Michel, speaking to reporters on the first day of the Group of 20 meeting in Bali, said the nine-month war waged by Russia, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, has disrupted lives in around the world as food and energy prices soar and economies stagnate.

“Russia’s war affects us all, no matter where we live, from Europe to Africa or the Middle East, and the best way to end the acute food and energy crisis is for Russia to end this senseless war and respect the UN charter,” Michel said. “The Kremlin decided to weaponize food, increasing hunger, poverty and instability.”

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Europe, Michel said, is trying to help Ukraine, a big pre-war food exporter, increase shipments, and is also trying to cope with fertilizer supply disruptions and the price increase. EU sanctions against Russia, he said, do not target agricultural products, even though Russia has imposed restrictions on its own food products and fertilizers.

“This is not a battle (of) Russia against the Western part of the world. This is a battle for the UN charter. This is a battle for international law. This is a battle for the idea that it is not acceptable to try to change internationally recognized borders by force.

Michel said he had no plans to meet the top Russian official in Bali, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

China, the world’s second-largest economy, has largely refrained from publicly criticizing Russia’s war, although Beijing has avoided direct support for the Russians, such as supplying arms. Michel avoided direct criticism of China when asked if Beijing has shown any signs of changing its unwavering support for Russia in recent days.

Instead, he said the G-20 meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday was important to convince all nations present “to put more pressure on Russia.”

Following a Monday meeting between President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping, Biden said the two leaders discussed Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and “reaffirmed our shared belief” that the use or even threat of nuclear weapons is “totally unacceptable” – a reference to Moscow’s thinly veiled threats to use atomic weapons in its invasion of Ukraine failed.

Michel said Europe must ensure that it creates an economic and political relationship with China that is different from the one it has established with Russia.

“We don’t want to make the same mistakes that we maybe make with Russia on fossil fuels”, on which Europe was very dependent, “with China, (where) we don’t want to be too dependent for technology innovation that we need today and will need more in the future, which is why it is important to rebalance the relationship,” said Michel.

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