Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell walked out of a Group of 20 meeting on Wednesday when the Russian representative began talking.
A source told the Insider that multiple finance ministers and central bank governors walked out of the meeting with Yellen and Powell. Other officials who attended the meeting virtually shut off their cameras when the Russian representative started speaking.
The walkout led by Yellen was coordinated before the meeting, according to Reuters. Ahead of this week’s World Bank and IMF meetings, a Treasury official said Yellen was expected to avoid events that Russian officials were attending.
The stunt is the latest example of the Biden administration refusing to engage with high-level Russian officials. Secretary of State Antony Blinken hasn’t spoken with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, since February 15, and President Biden has no plans to hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s ambassador to the US, has said he can’t get meetings with senior officials in the White House or in the State Department. Antonov said US lawmakers also don’t want to speak with him. While there are low-level contacts between the Biden administration and the Russian embassy, Antonov described his situation in Washington as a “blockade.”
As part of its strategy to isolate Russia, the US wants Russia to be kicked out of the G20, but other members are against the move, notably China and Indonesia.