Australian Finance Minister Josh Frydenberg aims Ukraine war salvo at Russians at G20 meeting

Joshua Anthony Frydenberg is an Australian politician who has been federal treasurer and deputy leader of the Liberal Party since August 2018. He has been a Member of Parliament for Kooyong since the 2010 election.


Article by Simon Benson - Political editor for The Australian - 18.02.22


Australia and Russia have clashed behind closed doors at a G20 ­finance ministers meeting in ­Jakarta, with Josh Frydenberg warning Russia that an invasion of Ukraine would deliver not only a human disaster but a devastating second shock to the global economy just as the world was ­recovering from Covid.


In an interview with The Weekend Australian, the Treasurer said Russia was playing a “dangerous game” with the global economy that threatened to derail the pandemic recovery.

Mr Frydenberg’s comments follow Defence Minister Peter Dutton’s assessment that Russia and the Ukraine were on the cusp of all-out war.


Scott Morrison said on Friday an invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces was imminent. “I hope that does not occur, but I think what we are seeing leads us to fear the worst,” the Prime Minister said.


In a closed-door intervention on Thursday night leading into the first G20 meeting of finance ministers and central bankers for this year, Mr Frydenberg issued a warning to his Russian counterpart that an invasion of Ukraine, which the West now fears is imminent, would have far-reaching human and economic costs.


“On the global outlook, we face a range of important challenges,” Mr Frydenberg told the meeting in which Russian deputy finance minister Timur Maksimov was present.


“The current tensions surrounding Ukraine are deeply ­concerning, We call upon Russia to de-escalate tensions, the ­alternative would be disastrous in both human and economic terms. It is in our collective interest that these tensions are resolved ­peacefully.”


The remarks from Mr Frydenberg earned a swift response from Russia, which accused Australia and Canada of using the economic forum as a security meeting.


“I want to respond to some of my counterparts who seem to be turning the G20 into a UN Security Council: stop listening to the fake news,” Mr Maksimov is understood to have said.


Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland is understood to have issued a similar message, claiming that the knock-on economic consequences of an invasion of Ukraine would deliver a global shock to the economy worse than the pandemic.


Ms Freeland said she was worried the work the G20 was doing to recover could be jeopardised should Russia invade.


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Josh Frydenberg, second from right, and Indonesia’s Finance Minister, Sri Mulyani, fifth from left, in Jakarta on Friday. Picture: AFP

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