Russian foreign minister appears in video amid reports he was taken to hospital after arrival at G20

World

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov was taken to hospital after his arrival in Bali for the G20 summit yesterday, the Indonesian authorities have said.

Wayan Koster, the governor of Bali, said he had been taken in for a “check-up” at the Sanglah Hospital in the provincial capital, Denpasar, and was “immediately returned”.

Three other Indonesian government and medical officials said he was being treated on the resort island, with two reporting Mr Lavrov was receiving treatment for a heart condition.

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The Russian foreign ministry dismissed claims that he had been in hospital as “fake news”.

In a Telegram post Maria Zakharova, director of the ministry’s press department, said: “We can’t believe our eyes: it turns out that he is hospitalised.

“This is, of course, the aerobatics of fakes. Well, wait, world exclusive.”

More on G20

Ms Zakharova shared a video showing Mr Lavrov, who has been Vladimir Putin’s foreign minister since 2004, sitting in his shorts, working on a balcony, according to Sky News Moscow correspondent Diana Magnay.

In the clip, she asks the 72-year-old what he makes of the reports, to which he replies that Western journalists
have been falsely writing that Mr Putin was ill for a decade.

“This is a kind of game that is not new in politics,” Mr Lavrov said with an ironic smile.

“Western journalists need to be more truthful – they need to write the truth.”

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov. Pic: Telegram/Tass
Image:
Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov. Pic: Telegram/Tass

Why is Lavrov at the G20 summit?

Russian news agency TASS has also shared an image appearing to show the minister smiling in front of a pool in Bali.

Mr Lavrov is the highest-ranking Russian official attending the G20 summit, which begins on Tuesday.

“He is there for the G20 in place of Vladimir Putin, who decided not to attend in person himself because the optics of him being snubbed on the world stage would not have been good,” Magnay said.

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She continued: “It will be interesting to see who he has meetings with. We shall see how the G20 leaders respond to him.”

It is likely to be the most fractious meeting of the G20 ever, with the traditional “family photo” of all the leaders being called off due to many not wanting to be pictured with anyone from Mr Putin’s regime.

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Diplomats have also raised doubts that leaders will be able to issue a joint statement at the end of the summit, as usually happens.

Although most would like to agree on a statement condemning Russia, that will not happen as Russia would have to agree to it.

Joe Biden has already met his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at the summit, marking their first in-person meeting since the US president took office.

Both leaders agreed they have a “responsibility” to show the two countries can manage their differences, and Mr Xi said he is prepared for a “candid and in-depth exchange of views” with Mr Biden.

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