Kremlin says ‘nothing terrible will happen’ if Russia is expelled from G20; Belarus blocked from joining WTO

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March 25 (Reuters) – The Kremlin said on Friday that nothing terrible will happen if the United States and its allies succeed in expelling Russia from the Group of Twenty (G20) major economies because many of the G20’s members are at economic war with Moscow anyway.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was commenting on remarks by U.S. President Joe Biden who said he favoured Russia being pushed out of the G20 after it sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine.

“The G20 format is important, but in the current circumstances, when most of the participants are in a state of economic war with us, nothing terrible will happen,” Peskov told reporters, when responding to a question about Russia’s possible expulsion.

Peskov said the world was much more diverse than the United States and Europe and predicted that U.S. efforts to isolate Moscow, which he said had so far only been partially effective, would fail.

He said some countries were taking a more sober approach towards Russia and not burning bridges with it and that Moscow would build new policy directions in all areas.

Meanwhile, the United States, the European Union and largely western allies have blocked Belarus’ bid to join the World Trade Organization, saying its complicity in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine makes it unfit for membership in the global trade group.

G7 countries and allies have already stripped Moscow of its privileged trade treatment at the WTO, known as “most favoured nation” status, clearing the way for them to hit Russian imports with higher tariffs or ban them entirely.

The western group halted work on Belarus’ WTO accession process after President Alexander Lukashenko crushed protests following his 2020 re-election that opponents say was fraudulent.

The group on Thursday said in a document filed at the WTO that it strongly condemned Russia’s unprovoked military aggression against Ukraine, enabled by Belarus. Russia, which calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation,” has used Belarusian territory to launch its attack.

“We condemn Belarus for its complicity in Russia’s aggression, which is incompatible with the values and principles of the WTO and of a just rules-based order,” the filing said.

“For these reasons, we have concluded that Belarus is unfit for WTO membership. We will not further consider its application for accession,” the filing said.

The group’s members include Albania, Australia, Britain, Canada, Iceland, Japan, Montenegro, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, South Korea and Ukraine.

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