Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen plans to meet with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal during this week’s big meetings of global economic leaders in Washington — but she’ll be trying to avoid most contact with Russian officials who plan to attend some portions of the event virtually.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine — and how world powers should manage the spillover effects on economies, including food insecurity — will take center stage at the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.
On Tuesday, Yellen will convene a panel of finance ministers, the international development banks and other institutions to talk about how they will use resources to address food insecurity.
This year’s meetings run through Friday, and include a mix of virtual and in-person events.
Russian finance officials are expected to attend several events virtually, according to a senior Treasury official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to preview plans for the meetings.
Yellen will participate if a Russian minister is there for a session or two, but will not attend every session, the official said, adding that the presence of Russian officials should not stop the work the U.S. needs to do with members of the Group of 20 — the world’s largest economies.
There are some sessions the secretary will attend – including the opening, which the Ukrainian finance minister also will attend. However, she won’t be participating in a number of the G20 sessions if the Russians are participants.
President Joe Biden has said Russia should be removed from the G20.
Yellen is expected to use this week’s meetings to work with allies on efforts to increase economic pressure on Russia while mitigating spillover effects, to call for the implementation of a global minimum tax deal and to address food security issues.
In addition, Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control this week is expected to issue clarifying language to make clear that trade in agricultural products is not barred under existing sanctions, in response to the food security crisis that the Russian invasion of Ukraine has caused.
Roughly 155 million people in 55 countries faced acute hunger in 2020, an increase of 20 million people from the year before, according to the World Food Program.
Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo is also set to meet with Ukraine’s Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko this week.
During a discussion Monday at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, Adeyemo reiterated the U.S. position that China has a chance to pressure Russia to end its invasion of Ukraine and would thereby avoid subjecting itself to secondary sanctions.
“China has in the past, and we expect them to continue to follow, the sanctions regimes that have been introduced by us and the coalition” of sanctioning countries, Adeyemo said.
“China’s business with the rest of the world is greater than its business with Russia.”
The U.S. and its allies have used sanctions to weaponize the global economy against Russia over its war in Ukraine. There aren’t any countries yet subverting the sanctions, but there are fears among the allies that China, which has criticized the Western effort, could do so, Yellen said in a speech at the Atlantic Council last week.
Also of concern is India, which has taken a neutral stance on the Russia-Ukraine war and recently made a major purchase of Russian oil, a source of tension as the U.S.. tries to cut off Moscow’s energy income.