WASHINGTON: Russia's refusal to agree to strong language condemning its war in Ukraine prevented the steering committee of the International Monetary Fund from issuing a formal communique on Thursday (Apr 21), the panel's chair said.
"Unfortunately due to one member country breaking away we didn't have the unanimity so as to have the communique," Spanish Finance Minister Nadia Calvino, who heads the committee this year, said at a press conference.
Ahead of Calvino's remarks, two sources had told Reuters that Russia's objections were preventing a full consensus being reached on a formal communique that would have included a strong condemnation of the war that began with its invasion of Ukraine in February. The IMFC issued a "Chair's Statement" in its place.
"The chair statement reflects an overwhelming majority view on all the elements...in these dark times, where multilateralism...is more important than ever," Calvino said.
The 24-member International Monetary and Financial Committee meets twice a year at the spring and fall meetings of the IMF and World Bank, and advises the IMF Board of Governors. While it has no formal decision-making powers, the IMFC's regular communiques provide strategic direction for the fund's work.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine and its massive impact on the global economy have dominated this year's spring meetings of the bank and fund, and high-level meetings held on the sidelines.
The meetings have "not been business as usual," Calvino said, repeating what has become a stock turn of phrase to describe the semi-annual gathering of global finance leaders that has featured walkouts by major western economy officials from sessions attended by Russian officials. U.S., British and Canadian officials again left Thursday's meeting as the Russian delegate spoke.
The IMF on Tuesday slashed its forecast for global economic growth by nearly a full percentage point, noting that Russia's war in Ukraine had fueled inflation, making it a "clear and present danger" for many countries.
Over five million Ukrainians have fled abroad since Russia invaded on Feb
24, the biggest attack on a European state since 1945.
The United States accuses Russia of committing war crimes in what Moscow calls a "special military operation." Russia denies the allegations.
The G20 also failed to issue a communique, although Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, who chaired the meeting of G20 finance officials, said many members spoke to condemn Moscow's war in Ukraine.
The G20 and the IMFC include Russia, Western countries that have accused Moscow of war crimes in Ukraine, and China, India, and other countries that have not joined Western-led sanctions against Russia over the conflict.
Adding to the drama unfolding in Washington, German Finance Minister Christian Lindner tested positive for COVID-19 late on Wednesday after participating in a series of bilateral meetings and the G20 and G7 finance gatherings earlier in the day.
Lindner announced the news on Twitter, and said he had only mild symptoms thanks to having received three vaccinations. He will isolate in the United States instead of returning to Berlin as planned on Thursday, sources said.